You have no idea how hard it is for me to resist going on yet another rant about how the issue of the labor negotiations between the MLBPA and MLB is terribly misunderstood. Or about how people need to learn to contextualize the difference between millionaires and billionaires. Or how these negotiations aren’t about the millionaires at all, but about the ballplayers who end up never being millionaires at all. The thing is, all of these arguments have been made. Some by me, some by other people. If you still refuse to understand the situation, nothing else I can say on that topic is going to sway you.
And yet, whether anyone will admit it or not, the lost baseball games are indicative of a good thing!
In recent times, labor has consistently lost ground to ownership - not just in baseball, but in the US as a whole. If you doubt this, just consider the etiquette around job-seeking. Companies regularly ghost or completely ignore applicants, but applicants would never do the same. Companies - where allowed by law - prefer to require the candidate to name a salary range rather than provide their own. Companies will badmouth former employees who don’t provide at least two weeks’ notice before quitting but frequently provide no such lead time for employees before letting them go. The list goes on and on.
So how does this tie into the baseball lockout? Well, the lost games are indicative of the owner’s throwing a tantrum and trying to bully the union into taking an even more unfavorable deal than the one the players have already indicated they’re willing to take. And while I wish the players had stuck to their guns a bit more on a variety of the issues, I still appreciate them refusing to be bullied by the owners. A win for any labor is a win for all labor, even if it’s painful in the interim. Every time a laborer looks at an employer/owner and says, “I refuse to give in until you treat me with the respect I am due.” it becomes more common for owners and employers to treat labor with the respect they are due.
Every time a laborer stands up for themselves against an owner, it means things will be a little bit better for the next person. It serves as inspiration for other laborers that things can improve. It even serves as a reminder to owners that there are a lot more laborers than owners and if they act together, with conviction and determination, they can make life better.
Employers do not want unions in their businesses. The reason they’ll give is because it prevents them from working directly with you, the employee. Of course, that’s a load of bunk. You’ll notice that, despite belonging to a union, there are multiple players directly involved in these negotiations. You’ll also notice that they’re far more likely to get a better deal for all of the players thanks to their agreement to stick together. Without a union it would be each player for themselves and they’d lose a lot of their negotiating power as other players agreed to worse terms for various reasons - including lacking the support that a union provides. Businesses do not want unions in their businesses because it makes it harder for them to take advantage of their labor. That’s the only reason. And history has shown time and time again that businesses, generally speaking, will take advantage of labor whenever possible.
That’s a precept of capitalism, by the way. To take as much as the market will bear. That doesn’t just apply to the amount charged for a product, it applies to getting as much work for as little pay from employees as possible. Remember that while you’re over there complaining about how much more money the players make than you; the owners aren’t trying to force them to take less money because of fairness, competitiveness, or any reason other than they want to maximize their profits. If the players didn’t stand up for themselves, the owners would absolutely pay them sub-minimum wage. Just like your employer would do if they could get away with it.
This is the important takeaway: I can’t stop you from insisting that the players are “equally greedy.” But every time you say that, you’re also calling yourself equally greedy for demanding a higher wage from your employee. Every time you insist the players are paid too much for playing a child’s game you’re actually saying that you’re paid too much for doing a child’s task. Every time you say anything that disparages the players for wanting to be paid better or supports the owners in their quest to not pay the players you’re saying that you’d rather the owners all got new superyachts than you ever watched another major league baseball game.
As for me? I’ll continue to refer to the union’s current actions as determined and inspiring, and I will hope to match their moxie, some day.