It’s amazing how quickly MiLB unionization has come together, showing how eager players are to being represented collectively, how well-organized the MLBPA has been in recent weeks, and–most surprising of all–how quickly MLB owners have stepped down and offered little opposition to the process. Normally unionization is positioned as an epic fight between labor and management–just ask the Starbucks and Amazon workers fired because of their union organizing efforts. While we’re not talking about totally analogous situations here between hourly workers pro baseball players, businesses usually oppose unions.
Last Friday, however, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated MLB would not oppose unionization, which streamlines the process for all involved. The process began with the MLBPA sending out union authorization forms in late August. Normally that would begin the process of recognition. Once 30 percent of the players return the union authorization forms–a threshold that was easily met–the next step would be a full vote of all MiLB players. If approved at that point by a majority of players, they would become members of the MLBPA, in a separate bargaining unit. But with MLB not opposing unionization and agreeing to recognize the MLBPA as representing MiLB players–in a separate bargaining unit than the MLB players–we now are in a position where the next major step is a collective bargaining agreement with players and MLB. There’s some optimism that a new MiLB collective bargaining agreement could be worked out as soon as the 2023 season–but, given past MLB-MLBPA negotiations and some of the personalities within MLB’s labor committee, this may be a tad optimistic.