Major League Baseball owners voted unanimously to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement with minor league players, formalizing the landmark agreement that will more than double player salaries.
Players late last week overwhelmingly voted in favor of the tentative agreement, with thousands backing a deal that also improved housing, transportation and medical rights of players.
The agreement, which will last five years, came together after the MLB Players Association created a minor league bargaining unit last year. Upon the league’s formal recognition of the union, the parties began negotiating, and the final deal came together Wednesday, two days before the minor league season began.
Years of public criticisms from players led to their organization and eventual unionization, and over the past three years, the league’s treatment of them has improved significantly. Salary increases were the clear priority for minor league players, whose incomes will jump depending on the level at which they play, with the largest increases by percentage at the lower levels and total dollars at the higher ones. By level, the increases are:
Triple-A: $17,500 to $35,800
Double-A: $13,800 to $30,250
High-A: $11,000 to $27,300
Single-A: $11,000 to $26,200
Rookie: $4,800 to $19,800
Players now will be paid nearly year-round, receiving $625 a week during spring training and at least $250 a week for most of the offseason — all of which are part of the annual salary figures. The new housing-and-transportation policies, which includes improvements across all levels — Triple-A and Double-A players are guaranteed their own rooms, and High-A, Single-A and rookie teams are guaranteed transportation to and from stadiums — addressed issues players brought up during negotiations.
In a statement, the league said: “When minor league players formally declared their intention to unionize last September, MLB opted to immediately and voluntarily recognize the players’ rights to unionize and began negotiations on a first collective-bargaining agreement. Meeting throughout the offseason, we made tremendous progress over a short period of time and are pleased to have reached a five-year agreement with the players. This agreement builds upon the significant effort MLB undertook four years ago to modernize baseball’s player development system, including increased salaries, free housing, improved facilities, better clubhouse conditions, and reduced in-season travel with better geographical alignment. We look forward to a great season.”
Upon the players’ ratification of the agreement, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement: “The agreement represents a giant step forward in treating minor league players as the elite professional athletes that they are. It’s a historic day for these players, their families and the entire player fraternity.”