Advocates for Minor Leaguers form steering committee to give players a voice, push for better terms

NEW YORK — Although the owners and Major League Baseball players plan to collectively negotiate the terms of their next deal, one group will not be sitting at the table during those discussions: minor leaguers.

While Major League Baseball recently announced improved housing conditions at all levels of the minor leagues — including furnished housing — many in the minor leagues believe this isn’t enough. As a result, Advocates for Minor Leaguers announced on Thursday the formation of a players’ steering committee, which will provide strategic advice and leadership regarding the ongoing labor struggle to create better conditions for all levels of baseball’s development.

“The Advocates for Minor Leaguers Player Steering Committee players have decades of combined experience in the Minor Leagues,” said Harry Marino, director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers. “They are thoughtful, intelligent, and committed to improving the game of baseball for generations to come. At a meeting earlier today, they decided to make the committee’s existence public and express their support for the Major League Players Association.”

The players on the committee will remain anonymous to protect their future career prospects in the sport.

“For decades, we Minor League players have been exploited by the owners of Major League Baseball, who have abused their unique antitrust exemption to pay us less than we are worth,” the steering committee said in a statement. “This year, most of us will be making less than $15,000. Many of us will have second and third jobs, struggling to make ends meet and get food on the table. Without a doubt, the abuse we see as Minor League players are undergoing the most pressing labor issue facing the sport.”

Marino said Major League Baseball’s recent concession to provide better housing shows that the balance of power is shifting to minor leaguers.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said Marino. “Going forward, I expect the committee to play a key role in our ongoing efforts to give Minor League players a collective voice and improve working conditions in the Minor League.”

The committee’s first action is to show their public support for the Major League Baseball Players Association, which the owners decided to shut out at midnight Thursday morning.

“The owners who voluntarily decided to close Major League Baseball are the same individuals who are taking advantage of a legal loophole to pay Minor Leaguers’ wages,” the committee said. “As in the past, they use restrictive contracts and conspiracy to pay the vast majority of professional baseball players less than their true worth.”

The committee stated that the uniform player contract for minor leaguers — which binds a player to the same team for seven seasons and prevents them from getting better paid in baseball domestically or abroad — is fundamentally unfair.

“Now that we have found our collective voice,” the committee said, “we intend to use it.” —

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