MLB commissioner Robert Manfred announced today that the league is set to voluntarily recognize the MLBPA as the new collective bargaining representatives for minor league players. The announcement comes a few weeks after the MLBPA sent authorization cards to minor league players seeking to represent them. Days after, the union received significant majority support, requesting that the commissioner’s office voluntarily recognize a change in player representation. The union and MLB are also working on an agreement on who the bargaining unit will include.
Major League Baseball will voluntarily recognize minor league players’ efforts to unionize with the MLB Players Association, commissioner Rob Manfred says.
The rapid timeline for minor leaguers to join the MLBPA has now hastened. Huge news for the entire sport.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 9, 2022
MLB Will Recognize Minor League Players’ Unionization with MLBPA
On August 28, the MLBPA launched the unionization drive with close to 6,500 signed authorization cards with minor league contracts. If this was declined, the next step for the player’s association could have gone through the National Labor Relations Board. The players on 40-man rosters on the option to the minors have come a long way. The union has represented those players since 1981. In contrast, a remainder of minor leaguers have not been represented by the union. Instead, the union intends to form a separate bargaining unit with its own player representatives and executive board.
MLB increased weekly minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021. $400 at rookie and short-season levels, $500 at Class-A, $600 at Double-A, and $700 at Triple-A. But, for players on option, the minimum is $57,200 per season on their first major league contract and $114,000 for later contracts. Furthermore, MLB began requiring teams to provide housing for players this season.
The relationship between MLB and union negotiators has been rocky over the years. Manfred and union head Tony Clark held separate news conferences to announce the end of the lockout back in March. On Friday, union officials were not present at the news conference to announce next season’s rule changes. The five-year labor agreement between both sides expires on December 1, 2026.