After years of rejecting overtures to expand their membership to include minor league players, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced that it has won the support of more than 50% of potentially eligible minor league players. in order to help them become new members of the association. In less than two weeks, the MLBPA has won the support of a majority of minor league players who have signed union permission cards – the first legal indication that employees can make to express their support for the minor league player membership effort to the union.
Based on that support and to avoid the National Labor Relations Board process of filing an election petition to move forward with formal election planning, the MLBPA is seeking to help minor league players unionize without the necessity or potential delay involved in filing, processing and scheduling an election. Since over 50% of minor league players have signed clearance cards,
the union exercised its legal right and called on Major League Baseball (MLB) and its 30-member team – as the players’ employers – to recognize minor league players as a separate bargaining unit within of the union.
The formal request for voluntary recognition was made by MLBPA Deputy Executive Director Bruce Meyer in a letter sent to MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem. The letter of formal notice included a card verification agreement, which would allow the parties to avoid a formal election by agreeing to verify the authenticity of clearance cards in order to establish majority player support for unionizing. Major League Baseball is currently not obligated to accept the application for recognition and may require the MLBPA to follow the NLRB’s legal process and require it to file an election petition requesting a union election. However, this long-established precedent of allowing an employer to require an election by secret ballot is currently under attack by NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, who is seeking to revive a 73-year-old doctrine. As announced in NLRB General Counsel Memorandum 21-06, Abruzzo is actively seeking cases to overturn the current legal standard and revert to the standard adopted by the NLRB. In Joy Silk Mills Inc. and United Textile Workers of America.
Abruzzo seeks to prohibit employers from rejecting a request for recognition and demanding an election by secret ballot unless the employer can demonstrate a good faith basis for rejecting the request and union majority status. In reality,the General Counsel is seeking to establish a process of “de facto card verification”, which would allow unions to become the authorized representative of designated employees when executing a majority of authorization cards without the need for to hold an election by secret ballot. Abruzzo’s goal is to prevent employees who have signed union authorization from changing their minds through the secret ballot.
In addition to the request for recognition, now that the MLBPA has claimed that more than 50% of minor league players have signed permission cards to indicate their support, the union has the opportunity to use other legal options to have MLB recognize the legal status of the union. For example, if MLB were to commit unfair labor practices against players, such as releasing or suspending players for supporting the union effort, MLBPA may request a directive from the NLRB that the union be recognized and negotiated for the purpose of negotiating collective bargaining. OK. If an election is ultimately held, the potential unionization of minor league players will be determined if the majority of players participating in the NLRB-sponsored election vote “yes” to allow union representation. If that happens, the union will be accredited by the NLRB as the collective bargaining representative for minor league players.
A successful organizing effort, while certifying the MLBPA as the bargaining representative for minor league players, would allow minor league players to utilize all labor law rights currently available to unionized workers. As union members, minor league players will likely be required to pay monthly union dues and will be subject to all other requirements of typical union membership, including being subject to potential union rules contained in the constitution and union regulations. The rights acquired by union membership would include the ability to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, covering terms and conditions of employment, including the ability to negotiate wages and benefits such as health insurance, the right to bargain specific work rules, the ability to create a formal grievance and arbitration process, and the legal right to strike.
Similarly, Major League Baseball would also have specific rights protected under state labor relations law that it could use when negotiating a possible collective bargaining agreement. These rights would include the possibility of negotiating a specific clause on management rights, disciplinary provisions and drug testing rules. The management rights clause could potentially authorize Major League Baseball to take certain unilateral actions regarding the operation of its business, including the potential elimination of additional minor league franchises. Additionally, Major League Baseball would gain the right to lock out minor league players in the event the parties fail to reach a negotiated settlement.
The request for recognition forwarded by Bruce Meyer to MLB is consistent with the position taken by MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark in a recent email to the union’s Certified Agents group of player representatives, stating :
“Poverty wages, oppressive reserve rules, discipline without due process, ever-increasing off-season obligations, intellectual property appropriation, poor attention to player health and safety, and a chronic lack of respect for minor leaguers as a whole (to name a few) – these cancers on our game exist because minor league players have never had a seat at the bargaining table. It’s time for that to change.
The MLBPA also announced that the activities of the non-profit organization Advocates for Minor Leaguers – a group that advocates for the rights of minor league players with financial support from the MLBPA – will cease to operate and that every staff member will join. the MLBPA to help with the new negotiation. unity.
MLB’s reaction to the MLBPA’s request for recognition will result in either the unionization of minor league players on an expedited basis or potential legal challenges by Abruzzo’s general counsel to support his efforts to return to the league. Joy Silk doctrine. Ultimately, it’s likely that a secret ballot election will determine the union status of minor league players.
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