The MLBPA Welcomes MiLB Into The Player Fraternity

MLB Futures game cover picture, which hosts the leagues best Minor League players to play at the All Star game(

MLB Futures game cover picture, which hosts the league’s best Minor League players to play at the All Star game(

CJ Bennett, Writer

   As of August 2022, the Major League Baseball Players Association welcomed affiliated Minor League Baseball Players into the MLBPA player fraternity. This historic step means that the MLBPA is now the sole collective bargaining representative for the 5,400 Minor League players at AAA, AA, High-A, Low-A, and Complex League levels.

   Having played for more than 100 years without a formal union, the players of minor league baseball lack formal representation, preventing minor league players from complaining or bargaining over wages or working conditions. In recent years, minor league players and advocacy groups have become more vocal about the players’ struggles and have gotten the attention of Congress. Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the MLBPA expressed that, “Minor leaguers represent our game’s future and deserve wages and working conditions that befit elite athletes who entertain millions of baseball fans nationwide. They’re an important part of our fraternity and we want to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field.”

  In order for this to work, they would first have to get at least 30 percent of workers to sign a card or petition saying they want a union. Then the NLRB would conduct an election. And if the majority of those who vote chose a union, the board would certify the union as the representative for collective bargaining. Second, the employer can voluntarily recognize the union based on evidence, typically the signed authorization cards. Before the MiLB players were put into this Fraternity, according to Advocates for Minor Leaguers, the vast majority of minor league players made less than $12,000, and this was below the federal poverty line.

  MLB, which took over and began reorganizing the minor leagues two years ago, has long argued that those players were similar to apprentices in fields like art, music and theater who are working to break into a higher rank of their trade in which they would be well compensated. According to MLB, the average time spent in the minor leagues was roughly two /-and-a-half years. The minimum MLB salary in 2022 is $700,000, while the average is $4 million. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote that “58% of drafted minor league players receive a signing bonus of $100,000 or more when they enter their initial contract. Those players who do not command larger signing bonuses generally will have very short baseball careers and transition to other careers in their early-twenties, and are truly seasonal employees who are free to obtain other employment or continue their education during the off-season.”

  In late August, the MLB agreed to pay $185 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by thousands of current and former minor league players over past wage claims. Also, with this agreement, the MLB must formally notify all major league clubs that they can no longer prohibit teams from paying players during spring training, extended spring training or any work period that is not during the championship season, which includes the regular season and the playoffs. The MLB raised pay for minor league players, with Low A minimum salaries rising from $290 to $500 a week and AAA salaries increasing from $502 to $700. And this season, it included a housing policy under which all 30 MLB teams were required to furnish housing to most players. In the past, players often had to pay for their own housing, which resulted in instances where several would jam into a single room of an apartment. These increases in player salaries, allows them to play baseball without working 2 jobs, which can be beneficial for them and their family.