Players speaking out against MLBPA are being intimidated by peers, lawyer alleges


Players speaking out against the leadership of the Major League Baseball Players Association are being threatened and bullied by other players, according to a leader of a group challenging union leadership.

“It has been shocking and disappointing to hear that several major-league and minor league players are being threatened, bullied, and retaliated against for having come forward with their honest opinions,” said Harry Marino, a former MLBPA lawyer, in a statement Sunday afternoon. “It is important to remember that federal law protects every union member’s right ‘to express any views, arguments, or opinions’ and ‘to meet and assemble freely with other members.’ Players should never apologize for exercising these rights.”

The statement did not specify which individuals are alleged to be intimidating players or what form the alleged actions took. Marino, who has become the public face of the players who want to oust some in union leadership, did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

In a statement issued a short while later Sunday afternoon, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark referred to the Marino group as “a coordinated and covert effort” that “troubled players.” Clark did not address the allegation of intimidation.

“For decades, the bedrock of the MLBPA has been an engaged membership that does not bend to outside agendas,” Clark said in his statement. “It therefore comes as no surprise that a coordinated and covert effort to challenge this foundation has troubled players at all levels of professional baseball. These concerns are being discussed where they should be, in clubhouses around the league. In due time, they will be resolved consistent with the traditions of this great organization.”

Since this episode began, none of Clark, Marino or deputy director Bruce Meyer have granted a published interview. Meyer sent a lengthy letter to players late Thursday night, while Clark and Marino have issued statements at different junctures.

Marino’s statement Sunday comes six days after a video meeting of some members of the MLBPA’s 72-player executive board turned heated Monday, when some players asked Clark to remove Meyer in place of Marino. At least three members of the MLBPA executive subcommittee, Lucas Giolito, Ian Happ and Jack Flaherty, are leading the push for change among current major leaguers, people briefed on the process said. The trio sits on the MLBPA’s eight-player executive subcommittee.

Marino wrote Sunday that the discontent goes back years.

AP22070623621670 scaled


Bruce Meyer (left) and Tony Clark (right) at a press conference in 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“Like many, I cannot believe how quickly this effort has picked up steam and begun to deliver results,” Marino wrote. “Over the past week, there has been more discussion, dialogue, and engagement among MLBPA members regarding the proper functioning of their union than at any time in recent history. Player representatives have made clear their desire to hire a different lead negotiator and pursue a different vision for collective bargaining, as well to obtain an independent, third-party audit of the union’s financial activity.”

The introduction of minor leaguers into the MLBPA in 2022 changed the political climate of the union and its structure. Marino was one of the grassroots organizers that led the minor leaguers to unionization, and minor leaguers show great trust in him. He later worked for the MLBPA on their behalf for less than a year, leaving last summer.

To account for more than 5,000 new members on the minor-league side, Clark decided on a voting structure that grants 38 votes to big leaguers and 34 to minor leaguers — giving minor leaguers nearly equal say.

The last week has been intense for both the MLBPA and the challenger camps. Both sides and their supporters have spent all day on the phones, rallying their causes and answering questions.

It isn’t clear how or when the power struggle will end. One popular opinion among players and agents is that Opening Day is a de facto deadline for a practical reason: players need to turn their attention to the season.

No one briefed on the happenings believes it’s possible Clark will hire Marino. The largest question appears to be whether Clark keeps Meyer, or removes him by firing him or re-assigning him. Clark could choose to add additional staff around or on top of Meyer, as well.

It’s unclear whether Marino’s group could rally enough votes to remove Clark himself — but that appears the only alternative option for the challengers if Clark doesn’t choose to remove Meyer. Marino’s statement on Sunday named neither Clark or Meyer, but did make a direct reference to Meyer’s job.

“At this point, what will happen next remains to be seen,” Marino wrote to close his statement. “How hard the players are willing to fight for the changes they want is a decision for the players. As a former minor-league player who played a key role in bringing 5,500 new members to the union, I will never turn down a request for assistance from any group of major-league or minor-league players. My sole aim is to serve the players and I will continue to make myself available to do so in whatever way I am asked.”

Marino’s full statement:

This Spring Training, a group of Major League Baseball Players decided to take a big step to improve their union, something Players have been talking about for years. I was honored that the Players asked me for assistance with this effort, and I have been honored to provide that assistance over the past few weeks, while taking time away from my work organizing other sports industry workers.

Like many, I cannot believe how quickly this effort has picked up steam and begun to deliver results. Over the past week, there has been more discussion, dialogue, and engagement among MLBPA members regarding the proper functioning of their union than at any time in recent history. Player representatives have made clear their desire to hire a different lead negotiator and pursue a different vision for collective bargaining, as well to obtain an independent, third-party audit of the union’s financial activity.

It has not been shocking that these requests have upset many, including those who stand to lose jobs or influence upon a leadership change and a closer look at the union’s financial records.

It has been shocking and disappointing to hear that several Major League and Minor League Players are being threatened, bullied, and retaliated against for having come forward with their honest opinions.

The events of the past week have been messy. But the MLBPA, like all unions, is a democracy. And democracies are messy. It is important to remember that federal law protects every union member’s right “to express any views, arguments, or opinions” and “to meet and assemble freely with other members.” Players should never apologize for exercising these rights.

At this point, what will happen next remains to be seen. How hard the Players are willing to fight for the changes they want is a decision for the Players. As a former Minor League Player who played a key role in bringing 5,500 new members to the union, I will never turn down a request for assistance from any group of Major League or Minor League Players. My sole aim is to serve the Players and I will continue to make myself available to do so in whatever way I am asked.

(Top photo of Harry Marino: Courtesy of Minor League Advocates)





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top