The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is looking out for the little guy.
The players’ union has launched a $1 million fund to assist workers who have been affected by the lockout that has left them shut out of work.
“There are a lot of people who make our game great. Many aren’t seen or heard, but they are vital to the entertainment experience of our games,” stated MLBPA Executive Leaders free-agent pitcher Andrew Miller and recently acquired New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer last week. “Unfortunately, they will also be among those affected by the owner-imposed lockout and the cancellation of games. Through this fund, we want to let them know that they have our support.”
On Dec. 2, MLB franchise owners implemented a players’ lockout, banning all baseball activities. Opening Day has already been canceled from its original date of March 31 after MLBPA members voted unanimously not to accept the owners’ new contract by the beginning of this month. It will shorten baseball’s normal 162-game season.
The league has lost at least two series in the season and won’t be made up. It could take a few months before they reach a deal. Players and owners could continue work as a new collective bargaining agreement is being worked out, but the commissioner and owners decided that wasn’t going to be the case.
In a letter to fans in February, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that there are issues on both sides, but he put much of the onus on the players.
“We hope that the lockout will jumpstart the negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time,” he said. “The result of that jumpstart? The league waited 43 days to return to the negotiating table with a response to the last proposal from the players. If MLB had an interest in establishing a regular cadence of bargaining, it did nothing to show it.” All for Manfred to walk in front of the cameras Thursday and talk about the pace as a matter of “mutual responsibility.”
During a recent news conference, Manfred said, “In the history of baseball, the only person who has made a labor agreement without a dispute, and I did four of them, was me.” Manfred ignored that MLB was on the brink of a labor work stoppage in 2002.
In a recent statement, MLBPA leaders called out the owners stating that this is simply a negotiating tactic designed to break the players’ union.
“From the beginning of these negotiations, Players’ objectives have been consistent—to promote competition, provide fair compensation for young Players, and to uphold the integrity of our market system,” the statement read. “Against the backdrop of growing revenues and record profits, we are seeking nothing more than a fair agreement.
“What Rob Manfred characterized as a ‘defensive lockout’ is, in fact, the culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our Player fraternity.”
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark stated that the people who work concessions and hospitality jobs around stadiums need to be thanked not only verbally, but financially.
“This fund is intended to support workers who are most affected by the MLB-imposed lockout but whose livelihoods have been disregarded by the owners in their efforts to pressure Players into accepting an unfair deal,” Clark said.
The players’ union has a friend in AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “Whether you’re a worker on the baseball field, or a worker behind the scenes, we all deserve respect and dignity on the job,” said Shuler in a statement. “The labor movement will do everything in our power to support these and all workers.”