Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baseball Collusion: MLBPA Opens 2010 Season with New Set of Concerns

On Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reported that the Major League Baseball Players Association may file a grievance against Major League Baseball club-owners for allegedly colluding in the market to sign free-agent players during the 2009-2010 off-season. One reason why the MLB players union seems to believe that club-owners have engaged in collusion is because player salaries rose only by 1% last season, even though total league revenues have increased at an annual rate of 7.6% over the past three years .

Another reason why the MLBPA may be concerned about collusion is that MLB club-owners have a long history of colluding in the free-agent player market. For example, in my 2008 Wayne Law Review article, "Moving Past Collusion in Major League Baseball: Healing Old Wounds and Preventing New Ones," I discuss how three arbitration decisions from the 1980s found MLB club-owners to have colluded against players' rights. One esteemed labor arbitrator, George Nicolau, even found Commissioner Bud Selig to have been directly involved in collusion during the 1986-87 off-season (see pages 619-20).

With this week's newest collusion concerns, the MLBPA now has to decide whether to file a formal labor grievance over three separate, outstanding sets of claims:
  • Then, there are similar allegations from the 2008-09 off-season, over which the MLBPA, one year after announcing its concerns, still has not filed a grievance.
(Cross-Posted on Sports Law Blog)

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