The Major League Baseball Players Association launched a historic campaign to unionize minor leaguers across the country.
The MLBPA took the first step Sunday night by sending out union authorization cards that allow minor league players to vote for an election that could help them become MLBPA members.
“Minor leaguers represent our game’s future and deserve wages and working conditions that befit elite athletes who entertain millions of baseball fans worldwide,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement on Monday. “They’re an important part of our fraternity and we want to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field.”
Thirty percent of players in the minor league bargaining unit would need to sign authorization cards in order for the MLBPA to represent minor league players. Once that threshold is met, a vote to unionize could take place and 50 percent of players would need to vote for their approval to formally form a union.
The MLBPA already represents some minor league players. Anyone who is part of an organization’s 40-man roster is technically under the MLBPA. However, a vast majority of minor leaguers are not represented by the big league players association.
“This generation of minor league players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,” outgoing executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers Harry Marino said in a statement. “Joining with the most powerful union in professional sports assures that this voice is heard where it matters most – at the bargaining table.”
This news comes a month after Major League Baseball agreed to pay $185 million to settle a lawsuit filed by minor leaguers in February 2014.