The Major League Baseball Players Association took the first step in the process of unionizing minor leaguers on Sunday night by sending out authorization cards that will allow minor league players to vote for an election that could make them MLBPA members.
Union Executive Director Tony Clark made the announcement on ESPN Sunday night.
The move could potentially unionize over 5,000 minor league players as the effort, which has taken course over the past year by players who won a $185 million settlement from the league in an unpaid wages class-action lawsuit and have received housing from teams and increased pay in recent years.
“The last couple years has been a buildup of players offering their voices and their concerns, with Advocates for Minor Leaguers continuing to echo and aggregate those voices in a way that have gotten us to this point,” Clark said on Sunday.
“The time is now because major league and minor league players let us know that the time is now,” Advocates executive director Harry Marino told ESPN. “It’s this group of players at the minor league level that have been pushing this over the past couple of seasons, and the major league players took notice and ultimately decided to take this step.”
“Major league players have an enormous amount of power within this game,” Marino said. “And knowing that major leaguers have their backs is really what makes all the difference for the minor league guys.”
“The game of baseball will be better for everyone,” Marino said, “when minor league players have a seat at the table.”
While MLB declined to comment, Clark expressed his confidence about the vote passing for the MLBPA to represent minor leaguers.
“Listening to the players and the concerns that they voiced in their interest in creating a formal seat at the bargaining table, they give me confidence,” Clark said. “The players always give me confidence.”