Union Spring in Full Swing

Baseball low res 004

Baseball is Back

Is there any sound more summertime than the crack of a bat?  Maybe the sizzle of the BBQ and the pleasant pop of a beer cap. Together, they may be the perfect symphony for the dog days when the heat gets hot.

Labor 411 is currently celebrating the United Steelworkers (USW), an appropriate group to highlight when talking about baseball (don’t they all have arms like home-run batters?) and one of the strongest unions in the country, the Major League Baseball Players Association- the first professional sport players to have a union contract.

Baseball has one of the oldest unions in the country. The first attempt to organize came about in 1885. But it didn’t really come together until the mid-1960s when players brought in Marvin Miller, an economist for the USW. He brought solidarity and professional organization in the forming of what is now the MLBPA, and helped negotiate the first collective bargaining agreement in all of sports in 1968. Part of that agreement raised the minimum salary to $10,000 after it had been stuck at $6,000 for about 20 years.

After labor troubles in the 1980s, the players and owners are today working in harmony after another successful contract negotiation in 2011. It saw one of the highest player involvements (230 different players attended sessions) and, aside from arguments over current salary levels, their union remains one of the better examples of solidarity.

The San Francisco Giants are once again looking good after last year’s World Series win. But the Los Angeles Dodgers have a potent lineup. We talked a little during the World Series last fall about how San Francisco and Detroit are historic union towns, and Los Angeles shouldn’t be left out of that conversation.

Labor 411 started as LA Labor 411 because the city has strong ties to organized labor. So with baseball here to stay until those October nights, it’s a great reminder to check out our city directories for both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Whether a visitor or at home in either city, there are countless restaurants, bars, shops and services that are union friendly, including AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium.

And if you’re staying at home to watch the game or taking a few swings at the local park, no problem! Bust out your Louisville Slugger and throw a few Ball Park franks on the grill (both are union made). And don’t forget the union brews, we’ve got a few of those, too.

For more on the history of the MLBPA, click here.

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