Notes: MLB settles lawsuit, non-player contracts, Vegas strike

MLB settles a pesky lawsuit, changes the way contracts for non-players work, and a strike looms in Las Vegas

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Once Evan Drellich wrote up a piece on the reasons why there could end up being a settlement in the antitrust suit filed by the Tri-City ValleyCats, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, and Norwich Sea Unicorns, it felt like settling was an inevitability. And on Thursday, that’s what we got: the trial was scheduled to begin on November 13, but now there won’t be a trial, as the lawsuit has been settled.

These three teams, all disaffiliated by MLB before the 2021 Minor League Baseball season, invoked the move as a breach of the Sherman Antitrust Act, saying that it was “a horizontal agreement between competitors that has artificially reduced and capped output in the market for MiLB teams affiliated with MLB clubs.” With the Supreme Court not yet agreeing to hear the suit, however, and chances of SCOTUS actually overturning the antitrust exemption being slim, it makes sense that the suing parties would be open to settling. MLB, too, as slim as those chances might be, don’t want to risk it or draw attention to their exemption if they don’t have to, so of course they’re going to settle. They want to disaffiliate more teams later, and the less the spotlight is on them, the quicker this can all be forgotten about without a trail of official statements left behind, the better for them.

It’s a shame, since attention and a spotlight was the reason to keep pushing, even if actually overturning the exemption via the courts was an unlikely end. With minor leaguers unionized and this antitrust suit now over, one wonders what the next thing will be that draws the attention of Congress to MLB’s exemption. Having to wait until the next round of disaffiliation would be a problem, but at least this time around, it can’t just be done without challenge: a workaround, via the union forcing MLB to bargain over this and then not granting them what they want, might be the best we can hope for at this time.


Speaking of bargaining, that seems to be the stage MLB is in with their non-players these days. There will no longer be standardized, uniform employee contracts for coaches, managers, and scouts, meaning each of the 30 clubs has to write up their own. Which creates the possibility of the jobs market for all of these positions to improve, since more than just the salary is in play now with the switch from one team to another.

Of course, there are reasons to be concerned, too: as Drellich reported at The Athletic, “One longtime scout said on Tuesday he was fearful that clubs will now attempt to include language that works against employees in new ways,” and “The switch is intended to insulate the league office against liability, league sources said. The thinking is that if a team is now sued for an employment matter, it will be more difficult to successfully include the league as a joint-employer defendant. It also might help the league if future antitrust litigation arises over employment issues, as well.”

That all being said, it’s a bit of movement from MLB that follows in the wake of R.J. Anderson’s excellent reporting on the treatment of MLB’s non-players, who are not unionized but very clearly should be. (Anderson also wrote a reaction to this news.) MLB will find a loophole in every potentially good thing they do, yes, and will do things in a way that benefits them, as well, but the fact they’re making any movement at all here is very likely in the hopes of slowing any conversations about having coaches, managers, or scouts unionize. In a way, it could actually be beneficial for this goal if teams did start putting some infuriating and onerous terms into their non-standard contracts. Management often being the best organizing tool for workers and all that.


November 10 strike deadline has been set by Las Vegas’ casino workers, which would impact 18 of the city’s casinos. That date was picked with real intentionality: there’s a Formula One grand prix set to take place in Vegas from November 16 through 18, and the people coming into town to watch it need hotels to stay at. Being Vegas, the hotels are also casinos, and they’re the home of Nevada’s largest labor union. The thousands and thousands of people expected to come into Vegas for F1 aren’t going to have anywhere to stay without crossing a picket line, and even if they do cross, 60,000 people will be on strike instead of doing all of the work they do to keep those hotels running.

I’d imagine centering their demands and deadline around such a vital event for the city and its casinos will push management to work out a deal to avoid a strike, but we’ll see. The Culinary Workers Union has been in talks with the three management companies — Wynn Resorts, Caesars, and MGM Resorts — since April, and those talks haven’t progressed as they should.

Members currently receive health insurance and earn about $26 hourly, including benefits, union spokesperson Bethany Khan said. She declined to say how much the union is seeking in pay raises because, she said, “we do not negotiate in public,” but the union has said it is asking for “the largest wage increases ever negotiated” in its history.

Hospitality workers — from bartenders and cocktail servers to kitchen employees and housekeepers — have also said they want better job security amid advancements in technology, as well as stronger security protections, including more safety buttons.

“We don’t feel safe on the casino floor,” veteran Bellagio cocktail waitress Leslie Lilla told The Associated Press. “We need enhanced security. We need emergency buttons in our service bars. We want to be protected, as well as for our guests.”

Casinos make ridiculous amounts of money, and these workers aren’t exactly in ideal conditions. Here’s hoping the strike can be averted because the union gets what it wants from a fearful management, but if not, it can join the many other ongoing strikes from workers who aren’t going to sit and take it anymore.

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