For decades, being a junior baseball player meant living a nightmare of poverty wages and substandard conditions. Given that the average Major League Baseball a wage $4.4 million, Chiefs’ off-the-charts profit margins — thanks to regional television contracts and publicly funded stadium inflation — the poverty of minor league players has been a national disgrace that has been discussed in baseball circles for years.
But the wheels may finally be starting to turn, thanks to the power of base-level regulation. On August 29, the MLBPA – finally – announced that it would organize Minor League players in the Federation. in statementMLBPA Executive Director and former Major League player Tony Clark said, “The Minor Leagues represent the future of our game and deserve the pay and working conditions that fit elite athletes who enjoy the millions of baseball fans nationwide. They are an important part of our fraternity, and we want to help them achieve their goals, within And off the field.”
Less than two weeks later, on September 9, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announce That the MLB will voluntarily recognize the MLBPA as a union for junior leagues. This is what you do when you know you’ve been defeated.
There is still a lot of work to do. The Average annual salary For the 5,000 athletes who play minor league baseball in a given season, the amount is between $5,000 and $14,000. This is not enough to make ends meet, so many players have to find other work during the downturn, sometimes taking two or three jobs. Their living conditions are difficult, and some of them even They live in their cars.
The plight of these players has received much publicity in recent years, thanks to the work of the advocacy organizations these athletes and their allies have formed. Earlier this year, current and former minor league players earned $185 million Colony of the MLB in a class action lawsuit over violations of minimum wage and overtime laws. In addition, the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has shown It will hold hearings to examine the MLB’s long-standing antitrust waiver—In place since 1922– And its treatment with minor league players.
“Players across the minor leagues are ready to fight for the respect, fairness and dignity they deserve.”
I reached out to Simon Rosenblum-Larson, the player who was recently released from the minor leagues and co-founded More than baseball, an organization that supports gamers and strives to be the “global police for inequality and support for baseball.” Says progressive“Given the poor working conditions in the sport, it is clear that young players have been in desperate need of a union for a long time. This effort is the culmination of a grassroots movement in the sport going back years.”
When he enlisted in 2018, Rosenblum-Larson says, “players rarely talked about poor working conditions, let alone the union.” Since then, they have organized. “We’ve built solidarity networks on the ground, and the footballers have spoken out, saying that’s enough for the poverty-level wages, the exploitative contract structure, and the hundreds of hours of unpaid work they’ve been forced to do.”
He adds that the union campaign “has been coming for a long time, but it comes at a time when players across the minor leagues are ready to fight for the respect, fairness and dignity they deserve as some of the best athletes in the world.”
The arrogance and greed of major league ownership and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is back to bite them. At the time of this writing, in early September, the commissioner and owners have been silent about the unions’ efforts. It’s a good time to ask, “Who has an interest in baseball?”
It reminds me of the common refrain of teachers’ unions: “The conditions of our work are the conditions of your children’s learning.” The working conditions of young baseball players – who provide us with endless entertainment across the country and the world – are very poor. We don’t get paid to watch the owner’s chest, as the saying goes. It’s time to start treating minor league players right, even if it comes at the expense of the owners.