MLB to accept minor league players’ unionization

Major League Baseball will voluntarily recognize minor league players’ efforts to unionize with the MLB Players Association, commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Friday.

The move by MLB formally accepts the MLBPA as minor league players’ bargaining representative. It comes days after the MLBPA said more than half of minor league players turned in union authorization cards.

If the league had not chosen not to recognize the unionization effort, the MLBPA could have held a vote through the National Labor Relations Board in which more than 50% of eligible players would need to vote in favor of unionization.

After decades of representing only players on major league teams’ 40-man rosters, the MLBPA is looking to grow its rank-and-file more than fourfold. The union would represent more than 5,000 players on domestic rosters and has suggested it would later consider doing the same for players on Dominican Summer League teams and at teams’ Dominican complexes.

The MLBPA has bolstered its nascent minor league operation by hiring employees from Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a group that helped organize the players who distributed the authorization cards and has fought for improvements, including higher pay and housing in home cities, to which MLB acceded in recent years.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan contributed to this story.

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