Editorial Note: The following piece is written by Jason Wojciechowski, a labour lawyer by day, and an immensely talented baseball blogger by night at Beaneball, The Platoon Advantage and Baseball Prospectus. After reading a recent article at Slate on the salaries and working conditions for Minor League Baseball players, we asked him to share his thoughts.
Un- and under-paid proles in sport are much on the minds of the commentariat these days, with the latest installment of “NCAA players should strike” now being joined by Lily Rothman’s piece at Slate on the underpaid and overworked starry-eyed dreamers of Minor League Baseball.
Rothman limits her example of how poorly treated Minor League players are to the $1,100 per month starting salary for A-ball players (which works out to something not far above the federal poverty line, and that’s before considering that minor-leaguers only get paid during the baseball season), but that management was simply able to impose a drug-testing regime on them is another example of their general powerlessness.
As you would expect, the proposed solution to such ills is for minor-league players to organize into a union and obtain a collective voice with which to speak to management about low pay, bad conditions, violations of privacy, or about whatever else minor-league players feel passionate. Rothman’s exploration of why nobody has yet successfully organized a minor-league union brings to mind the history of the United Farm Workers. There are parallels between the two groups of workers that can help illuminate further the problems sub-MLB players would face in building and maintaining a union.