March 24th, 2022

The MLB Lockout: The Most Watched Negotiation of the Year

Whether you are a big baseball fan or not, you probably have at least heard about the recent Major League Baseball (“MLB”) lockout, which created a complete work stoppage among the players and the organizations for a total of 99 days. The seemingly never-ending work stoppage began on December 2, 2021, when the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the MLB and the MLB Player’s Association (“MLBPA”) expired. The only solution to halting the work stoppage and getting the 2022 season back on track was for the MLB and the MLBPA to negotiate a new CBA. The only problem is that it was not so simple.

Professional baseball in the United States is set up sort of like your local teachers’ or steelworkers’ jobs. The employees of the MLB (the players) are represented by a union, which is the MLBPA, and their job is to make sure that the interests of the players are well-represented. While this is done in many fashions, the most popular method is the negotiation of new CBAs every few years. When work stoppages exist in baseball, two of which have occurred in the last three years, people often ask me: “What are they doing?” or “What is a CBA and what does it accomplish” The answer to that is easy: it is just a contract negotiation and formation process.

The CBAs are nothing more than a contract and all the MLB owners and the MLBPA are doing during lockouts is trying to reach a new agreement. The two parties are not bound by any terms and can essentially bargain for any provisions they want. The problem, however, is that sometimes the two parties are way off on the terms, which is what created a work stoppage this year. A few of the key terms/changes within the newly agreed upon CBA include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • $700,000 minimum salary for 2022; a 23% increase from last year
  • Luxury tax threshold of $230M; was $210M last year
  • 12-team playoff; was 10 teams last year
  • Universal Designated Hitter; the DH previously was only used in the American League
  • Additional advertising through jersey patches and helmet decals

At the end of the day, the two parties are essentially arguing over money. But that’s what a meaningful contract negotiation is all about, isn’t it? The baseball jargon and legalese may make the lockouts and CBA negotiations seem more complicated than they actually are, but really it is just a group of employees bargaining with a group of employers over their terms of employment.

We see this every day at Gross McGinley, LLP. Just like the lawyers for the MLB and the MLBPA helped negotiate the new CBA for their clients, Gross McGinley attorneys are accustomed to representing our client’s best interests in their employment and union contracts. Contact one of our attorneys today and let Gross McGinley hit a home run for you in your contract negotiation!