Baseball Players Union Joins AFL-CIO In Show Of Solidarity With Other Workers

The Main League Baseball Players Affiliation plans to affix the AFL-CIO labor federation, placing considered one of skilled sports activities’ prime unions in a proper alliance with different labor teams.

Tony Clark, the previous switch-hitting first baseman who’s now the union’s director, introduced the brand new affiliation on the Nationwide Press Membership in downtown Washington on Wednesday. He was joined by Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, which incorporates 57 different unions representing greater than 12 million staff.

Clark mentioned the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and the lockout that preceded the present season prompted the union to consider its personal place within the labor motion.

“The truth is we reflected on where our organization was and the things we could potentially do moving forward as part of the broader labor discussion,” Clark mentioned.

The AFL-CIO capabilities as a strong foyer for organized labor in Washington, searching for the pursuits of its member unions legislatively, and acts as a bridge between unions working in several industries. The federation was fashioned in 1955 in a wedding between the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The MLBPA represents round 1,200 baseball gamers, lots of whom make some huge cash. By becoming a member of the AFL-CIO, the union can be affiliated with many working-class unions, together with Unite Right here, which represents hundreds of concessions staff at baseball stadiums across the nation.

MLBPA Government Director Tony Clark introduced the union’s affiliation with the AFL-CIO on Wednesday.

Alex Trautwig by way of Getty Photographs

The AFL-CIO additionally contains the NFL Players Affiliation and the Nationwide Girls’s Soccer League Players Affiliation. The Nationwide Basketball Players Affiliation isn’t a member.

The baseball gamers union joins the federation at a time when it’s making an attempt to arrange extra staff. The MLBPA introduced Tuesday that it had gathered union authorization playing cards from greater than half of minor league gamers. That will be greater than sufficient playing cards to set off a union election underneath the Nationwide Labor Relations Board, however the union has requested Main League Baseball to voluntarily acknowledge the minor league union.

Clark mentioned the MLBPA hoped to “strengthen our player fraternity” by organizing minor leaguers and bettering their working circumstances, noting that many wrestle to scrape by on extraordinarily low wages.

“The minor league players are the backbone of our industry,” Clark mentioned. “It’s important that they have a voice at the table.”

The potential bargaining unit within the minor leagues would come with greater than 5,000 gamers, a big organizing effort for the MLBPA. There could also be methods the AFL-CIO might help in that effort and assist amplify the union’s message.

Shuler known as the minor league marketing campaign “an inspiration.”

“People often think that being a professional athlete means you’re just set up for life,” she mentioned. “I think there are a lot of misperceptions out there about that. Minor league players are dealing with poverty wages … and a chronic lack of respect.”

Unions sometimes pay per-capita taxes to be members of the AFL-CIO, which means staff not directly fund their union’s membership. Clark didn’t get into the specifics of the MLBPA’s association with the AFL-CIO, however mentioned gamers acknowledged that “now was the time” to affix.

“Whether you’re working on the pitch or on a baseball field or on a construction site, we’re all concerned about safe workplaces.”

– Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO

George Atallah, a spokesperson for the NFL gamers union, mentioned it was vital for the entire sports activities unions to be “aligned” with each other in addition to the opposite unions on the periphery of their industries. Being a part of the AFL-CIO can assist accomplish that, he mentioned.

“When we were locked out in 2011, the first people who came to our aid were the steelworkers, the hotel workers, the communications workers. They were all there for us,” Atallah mentioned. “Solidarity is not just one union within itself but from one union to another.”

The Main League Baseball house owners locked out the gamers forward of the 2022 season for 3 months earlier than each side reached a brand new 5-year collective bargaining settlement.

Matthew Loeb, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Workers, mentioned Wednesday that the work stoppage confirmed how a lot “common interest” gamers have with different staff, noting that lots of his union’s members in broadcasting weren’t in a position to work till the lockout was resolved.

Shuler mentioned there was “no question” that main league ballplayers have a big platform, and that their star energy might assist the AFL-CIO and its member unions of their battles with employers. However she mentioned that wasn’t the importance of the MLBPA becoming a member of.

“The point here is we’re all workers, and we all have the same struggles,” Shuler mentioned. “Whether you’re working on the pitch or on a baseball field or on a construction site, we’re all concerned about safe workplaces.”