Major changes are coming to the Minor League. In April, Major League Baseball (MLB) players and owners voted to ratify a historic collective bargaining agreement that, for the first time in history, covers Minor League players. MLB owners voted unanimously to ratify the agreement on April 3, following a March 31 vote in which more than 99 percent of Minor League players voted to ratify the agreement. The five-year agreement, which was negotiated by MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA), more than doubles the salaries at all Minor League levels and provides that Minor League players will be paid almost year-round.
Equally significant, just seven months before the agreement’s ratification, MLB agreed to voluntarily recognize the MLBPA as the exclusive bargaining representative for Minor League players. MLB’s September 9, 2022 recognition decision marks the first time in history that all Minor League players have been represented by the MLBPA or any labor organization. Previously, the MLBPA only represented Minor League players on 40-man rosters, but the September 2022 recognition decision extended union coverage to all Minor League players. Integrating the 5,000-plus Minor League players into a union that had already represented 1,200 well-paid MLB players will no doubt pose a series of challenges to the MLBPA. But recognition as the exclusive union for Minor League players allows the MLBPA to negotiate bargaining agreements on behalf of the players, including the historic agreement ratified in April.
California Governor Signs Bill Paving the Way for Collective Bargaining Agreement
On September 11, 2023, the California Legislature unanimously passed SB 332, a bill designed to pave the way for the historic collective bargaining agreement ratified in April. SB 332 grants a narrow exemption from state labor laws for California-based Minor League players. The legislation was designed “to carry out the collective bargaining agreement” approved by MLB and the MLBPA. Specifically, SB 332 provides that certain provisions of Wage Order No. 10-2001—which covers the amusement and recreation industry—does not apply to Minor League Baseball players covered by the collective bargaining agreement ratified by MLB players and owners earlier this year. Additionally, the bill exempts these Minor League players from certain overtime and meal period laws, and it relaxes the requirements for the wage statements that must be provided to these players. Governor Newsom signed SB 332 into law on October 13.
The passage of SB 332 caps a major milestone for Minor League Baseball and ensures implementation of the collective bargaining agreement ratified earlier this year. With SB 332 signed into law, California’s Minor League Baseball players, owners, and fans can put contract negotiations in the rearview mirror – and play ball.