MLB And Minor League Baseball Players Possibly Are Headed To Collective Bargaining Talks

A new front could open in the sports labor battles.

Sometime in 2017 or 2018, Major League Baseball began to dismantle the minor leagues. MLB claimed minor league players were seasonal workers and should not be treated as professional players because the players were more like interns. In 2018, Congress and President Donald Trump agreed. The Save America’s Pastime Act became law and exempted minor league baseball players from the federal minimum wage and rules regarding overtime pay. In 2019, Major League Baseball decided to revamp the minors. Major League Baseball owners wanted to get rid of 42 teams. Most of the franchises that would be cut would come from the short season Class A leagues. The dispute was about money and on a grand scale of the baseball industry’s finances, it didn’t make much sense. It was estimated that Major League Baseball owners could collectively save about $20 million or $600,000 per team annually by eliminating the 42 minor league teams. The owners also wanted to have the players draft in August which would eliminate the need for short season leagues. MLB owners seemingly didn’t care about alienating fans by eliminating a source of local entertainment but money talks. The MLB owners got rid of the short-season summer leagues and subtracted 42 teams. MLB owners got what they wanted and in 2021 the minor league system was revamped.

But the Major League Baseball Players Association fired back at Major League Baseball owners. On August 28th, the Players Association took the first action which could create a minor league players group by sending out authorization cards. This means minor league players could vote for an election that could eventually make them members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Major League Baseball will probably recognize a minor league players association and that would mean minor league baseball players could bargain for wages and benefits. A new sports labor fight is beginning.

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