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MLB plans to voluntarily recognize minor league union, says commissioner Rob Manfred

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Major League Baseball Announces Rule Changes Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The process of forming a minor league union is expected to take some time, but at least one hurdle is expected to be cleared in relatively quick order. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday told reporters the league plans to voluntarily recognize the minor league union.

Manfred noted the plans while at a press conference for the new rules agreed to by the competition committee on Friday, including a pitch clock, defensive shift restrictions, and larger bases.

The MLB Players Association formally began a push on August 28 to get minor league players to unionize, under the umbrella of the MLBPA. On Tuesday, with well over half of minor league players authorizing the formation of a union, the players association asked for formal recognition from the league.

Evan Drellich at The Athletic laid out the potential timeline for minor leaguers to gave their own collective bargaining agreement:

Potential hold-ups aside, once minor leaguers have a union, they would likely begin negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement with MLB this offseason. At that point, both sides are said to intend to have a CBA done in time for the 2023 season.

There will be hold-ups, if the last three decades-plus of of baseball labor negotiations have taught us anything. Ronald Blum at the Associated Press noted the league could ask for a minor league CBA to expire on December 1, 2026, the same date the major league CBA runs out. But perhaps more notably, Blum reported, “Negotiations between Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem and Bruce Meyer, recently promoted to the union’s executive director, have been filled with acrimony.”

Of note

Friday’s new rules were voted on by a competition committee consisting of 11 members, the composition of which agreed to in the major league CBA. The committee included six MLB appointees, four player representatives, and an umpire representative. Drellich, in laying out the players’ opposition to the pitch clock and shift bans at The Athletic, also noted that the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler was one of two alternates among the players.