At long last, there will be a union for minor-league baseball players. The news has been building the last few weeks, and on Wednesday, an arbiter approved the MiLB players union authorization cards, which showed there was enough support from minor leaguers to join the MLB Players Association.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued the following statement:
I applaud this extraordinary group of young Players and welcome them to the MLBPA.
The historic achievement required the right group of Players and the right moment to succeed. Minor Leaguers have courageously seized that moment, and we look forward to improving their terms and conditions of employment through the process of good faith collective bargaining.
I also want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of Harry Marino and the dedicated group he led at Advocates for Minor Leaguers, without whom this historic organizing campaign would not have been possible.
One of the biggest goals in the effort to unionize the minor-leaguers has been to increase pay and improve the working conditions. The movement picked up steam in recent years for myriad reasons, but one of them was the contraction of dozens of minor-league teams by Major League Baseball.
This new union will likely represent more than 5,000 minor-league players, and the MLBPA has also indicated it will bargain on behalf of players in the Dominican Summer League, even though it's based outside the United States.
"Major League Baseball has a long history of bargaining in good faith with unions, including those representing minor and major league umpires, and major league players," Major League Baseball said in a statement. "We respect the right of workers to decide for themselves whether to unionize. Based on the authorization cards gathered, MLB has voluntarily and promptly recognized the MLBPA as representatives of minor league players. We are hopeful that a timely and fair collective bargaining agreement will be reached that is good for the game, minor league players and our fans."
Presumably, the path is cleared for minor leaguers to start receiving better pay and be provided quality housing by major-league affiliates. It'll take a long time to fully achieve the goals set forth by a union, but this is a significant step in working toward them.