Touching Baseball's Untouchables: The Effects of Collective Bargaining on Minor League Baseball Players
Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, Vol. 4.1, 2012
52 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2012 Last revised: 6 Oct 2012
Date Written: May 16, 2012
Collective bargaining has significantly altered the landscape of labor relations in organized baseball. While its impact on the life of the major league player has garnered much discussion, its impact on the majority of professional baseball players — those toiling in the minor leagues — has received scant attention. Yet an examination of every agreement since the original 1968 Basic Agreement reveals that minor league players have been greatly impacted by collective bargaining, even though the Major League Baseball Players Association does not represent these players. While a few of the effects of collective bargaining on the minor league player have been positive, the last two agreements have established a dangerous trend of the players association consciously conceding an issue with negative implications for minor leaguers in order to receive something positive for major leaguers.
Armed with a court-awarded antitrust exemption solidified by legislation, Major League Baseball has continually and systematically exploited the minor league player throughout its history. This has resulted in limited player mobility, limited bargaining power, and salaries placing many players below the federal individual poverty level. Unless minor leaguers gain true and real representation at the bargaining table, the exploitation will continue.
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