By DON McINTOSH
Unionizing paid off quickly: Not just raises, but a promise that no more teams will close.
Minor League Baseball players unionized in September. And by the end of March, they had their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. Ratified by more than 99% of those voting, it sets terms for the next five years covering 5,400 players at 120 minor league teams.
Under the contract, player salaries will more than double at all levels, and players will be paid for training in the off-season. Minimum salaries will rise from $4,800 to $19,800 for rookie ball; $11,000 to $27,300 for Class A; $13,800 to $27,300 for Double A; and $17,500 to $45,800 for Triple A teams.
Players will also get improved retirement benefits, including a new 401(k) plan, as well improvements in housing, transportation and meals, and even a committee to oversee food quality. Players who sign at age 19 can become free agents after six years.
Players will also have union rights like a “just cause” standard for discipline.
And, in a special boon for minor league fans, the agreement guarantees that no minor league teams will be cut for the life of the contract. That was a concern for players, because after the 2019 season, 40 teams were cut.
The union campaign was swift. After the Major League Baseball Players Assocation voted to accept minor league members, it took just 17 days to sign up most players, and the employer agreed to voluntarily recognize the union.
The Major League Baseball Players Assocation also joined the AFL-CIO for the first time since its founding in 1966.
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