Major League Baseball Players Association

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MLBPA
MLBPA logo.png
Full name Major League Baseball Players Association
Founded 1953
Members 1200
Country United States, Canada
Key people Tony Clark, executive director
Office location New York, NY
Website mlbplayers.com

The Major League Baseball Players Association (or MLBPA) is the union of professional major-league baseball players.

History of MLBPA[edit]

The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players. Earlier attempts had included:

  • Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players - 1885 (founded by John Montgomery Ward)[1]
  • Players' Protective Association - 1900[2]
  • Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players of America - 1912
  • National Baseball Players Association of the United States - 1922 (founded by Raymond Joseph Cannon)
  • The American Baseball Guild – 1946 (founded by labor lawyer Robert Murphy)

The Marvin Miller era[edit]

The MLBPA was created in 1953. In 1966, the union hired Marvin Miller from the United Steel Workers of America to head the organization, serving as Executive Director until 1983. In 1968, Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the team owners, which raised the minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000 per year. The 1970 CBA included arbitration to resolve disputes.[2] In 1972 the major leagues saw their first player strike, in opposition to the owners' refusal to increase player pension funds.

In 1974, when owner Charlie Finley failed to make a $50,000 payment into an insurance annuity as called for in Catfish Hunter's contract, the MLBPA took the case to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled that Hunter could be a free agent.[3]

During Miller's tenure, base salaries, pension funds, licensing rights and revenues were increased, laying the groundwork that helped create what is widely considered one of the strongest unions in the country.[citation needed] Miller challenged the reserve clause which was used by team owners to bind players to one team. The strength of the union was immeasurably increased by the creation of the modern free agent system following the Seitz decision in 1975.

Players and owners failed to come to terms over free agent compensation, which led to another strike in 1981. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the MLBPA filed collusion charges, arguing that team owners had violated the collective bargaining agreement in the 1985–1987 seasons. The MLBPA won each case, resulting in "second look" free agents, and over $269 million in owner fines.[4]

Recent history[edit]

Donald Fehr joined the MLBPA as general counsel in 1977 and was named executive director in 1985, leading it through the 1994 Major League Baseball strike and recent issues.

On June 22, 2009, Fehr announced he would step down, and after a transition period, would be replaced by the union's general counsel, Michael Weiner.[5]

On November 21, 2013, MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner passed away after a 15 month battle with a non-operable brain tumor. He was 51 years old. Tony Clark, the Deputy Executive Director, was named Executive Director on December 2, 2013, the first major league player to hold the position.[6]

Salary Cap[edit]

As of 2012, Major League Baseball is the only major professional sports league in the U.S.A that does not have a salary cap; the MLS, NHL, NBA and NFL all implement some sort of salary cap.

Steroids[edit]

The MLBPA was initially opposed to random steroid testing, claiming it to be a violation of the privacy of players. After enormous negative publicity surrounding the alleged or actual involvement of several star players in the BALCO steroid scandal, the players dropped their opposition to a steroid testing program and developed a consensus that favored testing. Under pressure from US Congress which threatened to pass a law if the MLB's drug policy was not strengthened, the baseball union agreed in 2005 to a stricter policy that would include 50-game, 100-game, and lifetime suspensions.[7]

Leadership[edit]

President[edit]

Executive Director[edit]

  • Frank Scott: May 1, 1959 – 1966
  • Marvin Miller: July 1, 1966 – December 9, 1982
  • Ken Moffett: December 9, 1982 – November 22, 1983
  • Marvin Miller (Interim): November 22, 1983 – December 9, 1983
  • Donald Fehr (Acting): December 9, 1983 – December 1985;
  • Donald Fehr: December 1985 – 2009
  • Michael Weiner: June 22, 2009 – November 21, 2013
  • Tony Clark: December 2, 2013 – Present

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Helyar, John. (1994). Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball. New York: Villard. ISBN 0-679-41197-6.
  • Korr, Charles P. (2002). The End of Baseball as We Knew It: The Players Union, 1960–81. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02752-3.