This week it was reported that the National Basketball Players Association has been working on unionizing G League players, and that a vote on unionizing could happen within a year. For those who may not know, the G League is the developmental league for the NBA. It’s not a full blown minor league—yet—in that only 28 of the 30 NBA teams have a G league affiliate. The final two teams are expected to have one in the not too distant future. There will also be an unaffiliated 29th G League team next season—in Mexico City. The big league players’ union looking out for their minor league counterparts. Shocking, eh?
Meanwhile, the NBA already pays G League players $35K over its 5 month season, and ensures adequate housing and nutrition even without a union collectively bargaining for them. The major league making sure it’s potential future players are healthy and fit. Also shocking.
Even more so: An NBA exec in an interview upon being asked his opinion of G League players unionizing stated they had every right to do so and that the NBA would have no qualms working with them. Even if it’s BS, it’s the right thing to say, and I can’t imagine any MLB front office member saying that if it were about baseball minor leaguers unionizing.
Lets mention hockey for a moment, too: Minor league hockey has its own union, separate from the NHLPA. AHL players make $50K per year. That’s a far cry from what NHL players make, naturally, but it’s at least a livable salary.
Minor league baseball players? The MLBPA has shown zero interest in representing them; indeed, in conceding draft slotting and the international draft (as but two examples) it has undermined them. Congress has declared them seasonal employees and not required to receive at least minimum wage…and those that aren’t “bonus babies” or in AAA don’t. Now they face the possible loss of hundreds of jobs if MLB gets its way and 40 minor league teams are contracted. If ever a group needed the protections collective bargaining can provide, is MiLB players.