Senne v. MLB secures win after Supreme Court decision

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Lost in the shuffle of postseason news came a major development for an ongoing lawsuit against Major League Baseball. Senne v. MLB — the shorthand way of referring to Aaron Senne et al v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp — will keep the class action status that it won last August. In January of 2020, the Ninth Circuit court denied MLB’s request to rescind that class action status, and now, 10 months later, the Supreme Court has done the same.

Garrett Broshuis, a former minor-league player himself who is now a lawyer fighting for MiLB players past and present, expected that MLB would try the Supreme Court appeal route back when I spoke with him about the class action status being granted in 2019. That was MLB’s last option against a lawsuit that has been on a roll in the courts: Senne v. MLB will now resume “in the coming months,” per Jeff Passan, as there are no further courts for MLB to appeal to.

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The History of Baseball Unionization: The MLBPA before it was the MLBPA

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Major League Baseball players had few rights before the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports in 1968. They didn’t get all of their current rights all at once, either: the battle was, and is, an ongoing one. Before the Players Association, before Marvin Miller, there were other attempts to organize baseball players against the bosses. In this series, we’ll investigate each of those attempts, and suss out what went wrong. Here’s part 1part 2part 3, and part 4

You would think the formation of what we know now as the Major League Baseball Players Association would be something to celebrate without the caveats of the previous entries in this series, but that proto-MLBPA was a mess. Obviously, things improved — thanks, Marvin Miller — but that all took time. The initial version of the MLBPA formed back in 1953, and it wasn’t actually officially recognized as a union for another 13 years after that. And it wouldn’t have its first collective bargaining agreement for another two years, right before the 1968 season began.

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Red Sox look to act even more like a business with potential merger

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The Red Sox are owned by multi-billionaire John Henry, but really, they’re owned by Fenway Sports Group: Henry is just the primary money and decision maker behind that venture. Fenway Sports group owns a number of other teams in various sports, most notably Liverpool F.C. in the Premier League, and now they’re planning on getting even bigger by, per a Wall Street Journal report, merging with RedBall Acquisition Corp and then going public. RedBall’s co-chair, by the way, is Oakland A’s executive, Billy Beane.

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The History of Baseball Unionization: Where Murphy Money came from

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Major League Baseball players had few rights before the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports in 1968. They didn’t get all of their current rights all at once, either: the battle was, and is, an ongoing one. Before the Players Association, before Marvin Miller, there were other attempts to organize baseball players against the bosses. In this series, we’ll investigate each of those attempts, and suss out what went wrong. Here’s part 1part 2, and part 3

It would be some time after the defeat of the Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players before any more serious unionization efforts occurred in Major League Baseball. And the next one was extremely localized, too: rather than an entire union and then league sprouting up from it, or a union that briefly benefited from the attempt of a third league to form, the American Baseball Guild’s most notable moment existed with just one (1) team: the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The year 1946 was a massive one for labor in America: post-war, with soldiers returning home from Europe and the Pacific to their old lives and old jobs, there was basically no way there would not be some kind of labor strife. Because of the sudden influx of workers from this return, wages fell — Major League Baseball was not immune to this, as they, an industry that continued on through the Second World War, had replacement players that had become regulars in the mix with players returning to their old roster spots, necessitating an expansion of rosters from 25 to 36. To keep payrolls level, teams reduced individual pay.

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WWE claiming ownership of wrestlers’ real names and their money, too

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You might recall that, about a month ago, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) introduced a policy change for its performers, one that was exceedingly confusing and full of contradictory follow-up reports. Those wrestlers would be policed by WWE on their use of and relationships with “third-parties” like Twitch and Cameo, with the idea supposedly being that WWE was concerned about protecting their legal rights — like trademarks for wrestler names WWE owns. Basically, WWE didn’t like the idea of anyone making money on their own time if they were doing it using a name WWE owns, and decided they were going to take total control of those potential revenue-generating relationships.

The thing is, though, that WWE isn’t just doing this with the names they’ve trademarked. If a wrestler has a Twitch or a Cameo using their actual, real name, and not their WWE one, then WWE is still seeking control of those accounts and the dollars they generate. According to Wrestling Inc.’s reporting, WWE will take control of these Twitch and Cameo accounts by November.

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The Professional Baseball Agreement expires today

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​What’s been in the news for well over a year now has finally come to pass: the Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball has come to an end. The two sides are still discussing a new deal — there is no impasse in a one-sided negotiation — and when it’s finally signed, it will bring massive change to the structure of the minors and the teams within it.

As things stand, MiLB is going to see roughly 40 teams disaffiliated. Those clubs and their owners will have the option of going independent, with MLB paying whatever fees are required for entry into an independent league, or becoming a wood bat team for college players. MLB is, of course, also partnering with independent leagues like the Atlantic, Frontier, and Pioneer, and while it’s unclear what exactly being a “partner” league means, we see how MLB treats its current partner, MiLB: by getting rid of the implied subservience and just straight-up taking away their autonomy and shrinking them.

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The MLBPA is standing with hotel workers getting a raw deal

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Major League Baseball has once again seen teams select a hotel with an ongoing labor issue during the postseason. Over the weekend, UNITE HERE Local 11, whose members are located in southern California and Arizona, sent out a press release explaining what’s going on. The short of it is that the hotel MLB selected to host a number of MLB teams during the postseason has failed to rehire many of its most senior workers which they had let go during the earlier stages of the pandemic. Business is back, but the jobs aren’t, at least, not for those with seniority and experience.

It goes beyond just that basic framing, though. These employees weren’t furloughed, with their health insurance kept intact, until things got better. They were fully let go, their health insurance cut off during a pandemic, while neighboring hotels managed to avoid doing either of those things:

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MLB plans to experiment with fans’ safety during pandemic postseason

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​Let’s travel back in time to June 8, 2020, for a moment, shall we?

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, MLB is considering allowing local governments to decide if there will be fans at their games. In Texas, this would mean 50 percent capacity attendance, as governor Greg Abbott announced that would be allowed as of last week. This opens up the opportunity for MLB or its teams to pressure other local governments into allowing fans to attend games, which would be unsafe, but even if MLB’s hands are clean in this regard, that doesn’t make the existence of fans in the stands any safer. There is a reason these two sides are negotiating for how safe they can make a 2020 season — one that was never truly expected to include fans.

So, if this report is true, and MLB really is considering letting fans into their games in the states that are going to allow such a thing — the ones opening up before they should, the ones purposely messing with data to make the pandemic seem like less of a risk than it is, meaning the ones that are also going to be high-risk for further transmission because of a lack of precaution — then it’s even more clear than usual that MLB just cares about what kind of money they can make from 2020, and not the safety of anyone making or giving the money to them.

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How are MiLB players going to live during the offseason, mid-pandemic?

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​Minor League Baseball players have to work in the offseason. Maybe not every minor-league player — a few early draft picks might have received large enough signing bonuses to avoid that fate, and the players on 40-man rosters are making a living wage thanks to being part of the Players Association with the protections and benefits that entail. But the vast majority of the thousands upon thousands of minor leaguers are making sub-poverty level wages, and for just a few months per year. In order to pay rent, eat, and continue to be able to train for their career, these players need to find second jobs to sustain themselves.

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MLB wants to keep the expanded postseason, ruin regular season further

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Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to an expanded postseason for the shortened 2020 season, as a way to make up for the revenues lost by not airing any games for the first three months of what would have been the regular season. Now, though, MLB begins part two of their expanded postseason plan: convincing you it is not just a temporary, pandemic-related bug, but instead the kind of feature you should be hoping sticks. Here’s commissioner Rob Manfred, in the Washington Post:

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