WASHINGTON — The Major League Baseball Players Association is joining the AFL-CIO, executive director Tony Clark said Wednesday.
The move comes as the MLBPA is attempting to unionize minor leaguers following decades of opposition and in the aftermath of a nearly 100-day lockout that delayed the start of the season. Clark made the announcement alongside AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler during an event at the National Press Club.
Shuler called it “an incredible moment for the labor movement.” Clark said baseball players want to strengthen their organization by supporting minor leaguers and becoming part of the AFL-CIO.
“Together we’re going to navigate that chaos, and together we’re going to work through it,” Clark said.
The MLPBA on Tuesday asked management to voluntarily accept the union as the bargaining agent for minor leaguers. Bruce Meyer, the union’s deputy executive director, sent a letter to MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem that claimed a majority of minor leaguers had signed authorization cards.
Clark repeated that assertion Wednesday, saying “thousands” of cards had been returned.
The MLBPA, which reached its first collective bargaining agreement for major leaguers in 1968, launched the minor league unionization drive Aug. 28. Players with minor league contracts, who earn as little as $400 weekly during the six-month season, would become their own bargaining unit within the MLBPA.
Baseball and the players settled on terms of a new collective bargaining agreement in March, ending the sport’s ninth work stoppage after 99 days and clearing the way for a full, 162-game regular season with opening day pushed back a week.