Minor league baseball players reportedly moved one step closer to unionization on Saturday.
According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLB Players Association "finalized a card-check agreement expected to formalize the league recognizing the union as the bargaining representative for a unit of minor league players in excess of 5,000 members."
Per Rogers and Passan, Saturday's agreement "is the latest step in the rapid unionization of minor league players and sets up the parties to negotiate a collective-bargaining agreement." Negotiations are expected to begin this offseason, with the hope to reach an agreement prior to the 2023 minor league season. On Wednesday, the MLBPA will reportedly present union-authorization cards to be counted by a neutral arbiter.
Saturday's agreement accelerates what was described as "inevitable" by Rogers and Passan: "the MLBPA representing a wide swath of minor league players, including all who play in the four domestic levels as well as those at team complexes in Arizona and Florida."
The decision by MLB to voluntarily recognize minor leaguers' desire to unionize with the MLBPA earned praise from President Joe Biden:
President Biden @POTUS
Congratulations to our country’s Minor League Baseball players on a historic, swift, and overdue organizing victory, and to <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBPA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBPA</a> for taking this critical step. Every worker is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect – on the job and on the field. <a href="https://t.co/hdAFpGmywK">https://t.co/hdAFpGmywK</a>
The MLBPA only represents players of teams' 40-man rosters. By adding minor leaguers as part of its representation, the union will expand its membership by more than four times.
Minor league players began organizing early last year in hopes of increasing pay from an annual average of $12,000 and seeking better working conditions. After Saturday's agreement, unionization appears to be on the horizon and could lead to a brighter future.