Advocacy Efforts Have Paid Off for Minor League Baseball Players
MLB Will Provide Housing for Minor Leaguers in 2022
By Ken Reed
Thanks to the efforts of a couple advocacy groups, and the strategic use of social media by players, minor league baseball players will have housing covered by Major League Baseball (MLB) starting in 2022.
Advocates for Minor Leaguers and More Than Baseball, are the two advocacy groups that have been pushing for better working conditions for minor leaguers for several years. Many minor leaguers have been living below the poverty line and dealing with poor living and working conditions for decades.
“This is a historic victory for minor league baseball players,” said Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers.
“When we started talking to players this season about the difficulties they face, finding and paying for in-season housing was at the top of almost every player’s list. As a result, addressing that issue became our top priority.”
Feeling the heat from players, advocacy groups and the legal system, MLB boosted minor league salaries last year. However, the salary boosts weren’t enough to keep some players from sleeping on air mattresses, in their cars, or at ballpark clubhouses.
The total cost for a MLB franchise to house all minor league players for one season is less than $1 million, according to two executives whose teams had explored doing so before the league announced its housing plan. We’re talking relative pennies compared to the $10-$30 million per year salaries that some MLB players pull in every season.
“Most Minor Leaguers make less than $15,000 per year and won’t receive their next paycheck until April,” Marino said.
“For the next six months, they will spend hours each day training — as required by contract — while trying to balance second and third jobs to make ends meet. Like housing six players in a two-bedroom apartment, this is a broken model from a bygone era.”
In addition to the various advocacy efforts, minor leaguers have taken legal steps against MLB. A class-action lawsuit filed by minor league players alleging they were underpaid and not provided overtime remains in the court system after the United States Supreme Court denied MLB’s attempt to dismiss the case.
Given the huge salaries players at the Major League level enjoy, most people have no idea how poorly compensated minor league baseball players are. From an economic perspective, the lifestyles of minor league players have very little in common with MLB players. A large percentage of minor league baseball players have annual incomes that place them below the U.S. poverty line based on their typical 60-hour workweeks.
“It was this unprecedented behavior — minor league players unifying and utilizing their collective voice — that ultimately upset the status quo,” Marino said.
Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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