MLB takes small step to improving MiLB pay

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Major League Baseball isn’t about to give Minor League Baseball players another pay raise anytime soon — even if the one they did promise for 2021 is still lacking — but they have agreed to a welcome change with players’ money all the same. That’s because, according to Baseball America, MLB itself has proposed paying MiLB’s clubhouse attendants and providing (or paying for) meals before games.

Previously, clubhouse attendants were paid in clubhouse dues, which were the responsibility of the players, and a small stipend from the teams. This system was a ridiculous one even in the majors, where the minimum salary for players has been a whole lot better in the 50-plus years since the union negotiated what that figure was, but in the minors, where the vast majority of players are earning poverty-level wages? It was just another form of theft, where MiLB teams and MLB teams got away with not covering one of the essential pieces of the locker room by forcing the players to essentially tip the person doing their laundry so that they had clean clothes and the clubbie could make a living. MLB players, by the way, no longer have to pay clubbies, as of the 2017 collective bargaining agreement. MiLB had not yet escaped this awful setup, but will if this new policy is adopted.

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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 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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MLB is forcing MiLB players to leave spring training, without pay or hope

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Spring training is officially over, and the Major League Baseball Players Association sent out a memo to its members telling them they could stay at the spring training facility, go home, or head to the city that their team plays in. The allowances teams give to players during spring training, like for housing, are still in effect. The on-field facilities players use to prep for the regular season will remain open to those who stay, as well, and teams will assist in flying out the families of any players who had their families with them in Arizona or Florida, to boot.

According to minor-league players spoken to under the condition of anonymity, MLB’s response was much more terse and disconcerting: go home. It was left up to each individual team to craft their own message to their minor-league players that said as much, but that was what had to be relayed from above. Go home, whether you’re a domestic or international player. Go home, because you, as minor-league players, don’t have the protections and rights to negotiating an exit as unionized players.

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MiLB players speak on MLB’s idea of “waste”

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Part of Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball’s plan to shrink the minor leagues revolves around the concept of “waste.” Per a report by Bill Madden, “waste” was an important reason to agree to this plan to disaffiliate 42 minor-league teams: you can see my reaction to that reveal as well, as it published here in mid-November. This time around, though, the focus is on what minor-league players think of this idea, that any player who doesn’t make it to the bigs was a “waste” of resources for MLB teams.

I spoke with three players — two former, one active but anonymous to protect them from any blowback from MLB — for a feature that published at TalkPoverty earlier this month, titled “Major League Baseball Wants to Crush 42 Minor League Teams — And Their Hometowns.” I asked them a wider range of questions than what was used in that one piece, however, including on the subject of “waste.”

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The battle between MLB and MiLB is just beginning

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Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball met at the winter meetings to continue negotiations on a new Professional Baseball Agreement — the governing document for the relationship between MLB and MiLB — and those talks were not promising. If anything, everything surrounding MLB’s plan to disaffiliate 42 teams is somehow worse than it was before the latest talks, as the two sides brought a somewhat-public discussion fully into the public, and spent the end of the week sniping back and forth. This was ugly, and it’s only getting uglier.

MLB is protective of their plan, and, as Michael Silverman put it for The Boston Globe, fired back at Minor League Baseball owners for letting the public know that MLB’s plan to devastate dozens of communities with a connection to pro baseball and gut thousands of jobs is extremely unfair, poorly thought out, and is an excellent summation of the level of greed that’s currently in favor among MLB owners. MiLB then responded to this by going point-by-point on MLB’s plan, including tearing the “Dream League” idea to shreds by saying it’s completely nonviable both for affected MiLB owners and the smaller communities many of these disaffiliated teams hail from.

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