The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced on September 7, 2022, it is formally affiliating with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) in an effort to strengthen its position. The announcement was made during an appearance by AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark before the National Press Club.
The MLBPA, which reached its first collective bargaining agreement for major leaguers in 1968, launched a unionization drive for minor league players on August 28th, 2022. The MLBPA’s efforts to represent minor leaguers recently cleared their first hurdle when more than fifty percent (50%) of minor-league baseball players signed authorization cards in support of unionization, well exceeding the thirty percent (30%) of signatures required to trigger a formal election.
On September 6, 2022, the MLBPA made a request for voluntary recognition to Major League Baseball (MLB). The Players Association sent a “card-check agreement,” where the league would agree to voluntary recognition, contingent on independent verification of the authorization cards. On September 9, 2022, MLB announced it would voluntarily recognize the minor-league union.
The unionization of more than 5,000 minor leaguers is a major milestone in a decades-long labor dispute that has escalated to Congress. The MLBPA currently represents players on the 40-man rosters of all 30 teams in the MLB. The MLBPA is the 58th union to affiliate with the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the U.S. with 12.5 million members. The AFL-CIO’s Sports Council already includes players’ associations from the NFL, National Women’s Soccer League, United Soccer League, and U.S. Women’s National Team.
Aligning the players with the AFL-CIO could attract other unions that represent workers in the sports industry, such as television crews and stadium vendors. In light of these developments, employers in the sports industry should retain experienced labor counsel to assist in formulating their labor relations strategy, including education on the potential effects of signing union authorization cards during organizing efforts.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.