MLB and players reach agreement with minor league union

NEW YORK — The players’ association will submit union clearance cards to an arbitrator on Wednesday as part of a deal with Major League Baseball that will lead to collective bargaining for about 5,500 farm workers.

MLB and the union reached a card check agreement on Saturday, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as no announcement had been made.

Martin Scheinman, baseball’s permanent umpire, is expected to count the cards to determine if more than 50% of the bargaining unit-eligible players have signed. If a majority is reached, MLB would recognize the minor leaguers’ union and the players’ association would not have to petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election.

The bargaining unit would include minor league players, except for the 40 players on the optional major league roster, who are covered by the big league union; players assigned to the Dominican Summer League, which is outside the United States; and players on the list of voluntary retirees.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday he expects a deal.

“Congratulations to the baseball players of the minor leagues of our country for a historic, fast and late organization victory, and to have taken this crucial stage,” tweeted President Joe Biden on Saturday. “Every worker has the right to be treated with dignity and respect – at work and in the field.”

The minor league union would be a separate bargaining unit within the players’ association.

“Great news for our minor league baseball athletes who will now be able to join a union,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted. “This historic effort is long overdue and is due to the players and managers who fought for years to organize themselves.”

Players with major league contracts average over $4 million and have a minimum salary of $700,000 when in the big leagues. Their minimum is $57,200 when optional in the minor leagues with a first contract in a major league and $114,100 if a second or more contract in a major league.

MLB increased weekly minimum wages for minor leaguers in 2021 to $400 at the rookie and short-season level, $500 in Class A, $600 in Double-A and $700 in Triple-A. For optional players, the minimum is $57,200 per season for a first big league contract and $114,100 for subsequent big league contracts.

The first-round picks this year have agreed to sign bonuses for their initial contracts ranging from $2.1 million to $8.19 million. Sixty-seven of the top 68 selections receive $1 million or more – the rest $997,500.

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

MLB and minor league attorneys this year agreed to a $185 million settlement of an eight-year-old federal lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws, a deal that could be finalized next year. . A first estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could split around $120 million with an average payout of $5,000 to $5,500, and their lawyers will split $55.5 million.

Neal T. Doss