MLB asked to voluntarily accept minor league union

NEW YORK (AP) — The Major League Baseball Players Association asked management Tuesday to voluntarily accept the union as the bargaining agent for minor leaguers.

Bruce Meyer, the union’s deputy executive director, sent a letter to MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem that claimed a majority of minor leaguers had signed authorization cards.

The MLBPA, which reached its first collective bargaining agreement for major leaguers in 1968, launched the minor league unionization drive on Aug. 28. Players with minor league contracts, who earn as little as $400 weekly during the six-month season, would become their own bargaining unit within the MLBPA.

If MLB does not voluntarily accept the union, signed cards from 30% of the 5,000 to 6,5000 minor leaguers in the bargaining unit would allow the union to file a petition to the National Labor Relations Board asking for a union authorization election. A majority vote in an election would authorize union representation.

“Minor league players have made it unmistakably clear they want the MLBPA to represent them and are ready to begin collective bargaining in order to positively affect the upcoming season,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement.

The union did not say what percentage of minor leaguers had signed authorization cards.

MLB did not immediately comment on the letter.

Players with major league contracts average more than $4 million and have a $700,000 minimum salary while in the big leagues. Their minimum is $57,200 while on option to the minor leagues, with a first major league contract and $114,100 if a second or later big league contract.

MLB raised weekly minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021 to $400 at rookie and short-season levels, $500 at Class A, $600 at Double-A and $700 at Triple-A. For players on option, the minimum is $57,200 per season for a first big league contract and $114,100 for later big league contracts.

In addition, MLB this year began requiring teams to provide housing for most minor leaguers.

Major League Baseball and lawyers for minor leaguers agreed this year to a $185 million settlement of an eight-year-old federal lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws, a deal that may be finalized next year. An early estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could share roughly $120 million with an average payment of $5,000 to $5,500, and their lawyers will split $55.5 million.

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