In a historic moment for organized labor in sports, Advocates for Minor Leaguers formally joined the MLB Players Association to help minor leaguers get a seat at the table.
If you’re one of baseball’s anointed future stars, your time in the minor leagues could be nothing more than a formality, and your fat signing bonus is more than enough to tide you over until you get to The Show. But for the vast majority of professional ballplayers, you ride the bus. You bunk with roommates (perhaps several). During the offseason, you’re a regular working stiff out of sheer necessity.
In so many ways, the compensation and working conditions up and down baseball’s lower levels are simply untenable — which is why the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced plans Monday to revolutionize them.
Formally joining forces with members of the Advocates for Minor Leaguers advocacy organization, the MLBPA is officially on a mission to help minor league baseball players unionize for the first time ever.
As part of the groundbreaking effort, the existing staffers at Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a nonprofit founded in 2020, will transition to formal roles with the Players Association. “We are thrilled by this development and have no doubt that joining the MLBPA is the best possible outcome,” said now-former AML Executive Director Harry Marino on the occasion.
The road to organized labor in Minor League Baseball will be a long one, and there’s no guarantee that the vision of success the MLBPA currently has will be one that ultimately comes to fruition; you can bet that the MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred will attempt to fight this campaign vociferously (and perhaps litigiously).
But it would be wrong to consider this announcement to be anything but historic in nature.
As veteran Braves reliever and former Astros World Series champ Collin McHugh reacted to the news, surely speaking for far more ballplayers than simply himself:
As things stand, minor leaguers are the lowest levels of the professional game can make as little as $400 per week. In July, meanwhile, Manfred infamously disputed the very idea that these athletes are paid unlivable wages. His words sound as outlandish now as they did back then, and they’re a strong indication that not a single thing will change on this heated front without a serious fight.
Win, lose, or draw, that fight begins today.