By Frank Fasi III, Teaching Assistant and Student of Business and Finance, George Washington University
On May 4th, 2023, a DC LERA panel was held at the George Washington University School of Business to discuss the labor-management relations in professional baseball, with a focus on the minor leagues. Speaking that day was Brad Snyder, a Professor of Law at Georgetown University who has published numerous books relating to sports and the legal environment. Joined by him was Simon Rosenblum-Larson, an organizer and former minor league baseball player drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays, and program director for “More than Baseball,” a non-profit working toward the betterment of working conditions for minor league players, as well as the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center. Moderating the discussion was Mark Hyman, Director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland and co-director of The Great China Baseball Hunt, an upcoming documentary exploring the world of baseball in China.
In attendance were members of DC LERA and baseball fanatics. Guests ranged from current university students simply interested in sports to foreign dignitaries from various embassies. All were intrigued to learn about the unspoken complexities of labor relations within the minor league, a topic the MLB too often attempts to hide from the public eye.
Topics covered varied from player salaries being below the poverty level to conditions of baseball academies in Latin America. Mr. Rosenblum-Larson had much to share regarding the process of unionizing the minor leagues and the integration into the MLBPA, the union representing all major and minor league athletes. He went into great detail about the first ratified minor-league collective bargaining agreement discussing both the huge improvements in the agreement and the areas where progress is still needed. Professor Snyder spoke about past instances of players being too afraid to speak-out against Major League Baseball due to concerns for retaliation, relating to Rosenblum-Larson’s own story of being released from the team after revealing sub-optimal working conditions in a Washington Post article. All panelists were knowledgeable and passionate about their expertise, engaging the audience and propelling the discussion of what goes on behind-the-scenes of major and minor league baseball.
The event was co-sponsored by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism of University of Maryland, the American Constitution Society DC Lawyer Chapter, and the Masters of Human Resources Program, Department of Management, GW School of Business.