Following the agreement by MLB’s owners and players association on a new collective bargaining agreement, plenty around the sports world and beyond weighed in on the big news. Among the crowd? Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
The former presidential candidate expressed excitement that the season would be played in full, but took the owners to task for what he described as being “far more concerned about increasing their wealth and profits than in strengthening our national pastime.”
Sanders decried the owners as “baseball oligarchs” and criticized the league for numerous slights, including paying minor league players substandard wages and using taxpayers’ money to finance stadiums.
“These are baseball oligarchs who negotiated in bad faith for more than 100 days in a blatant attempt to break the players’ union,” Sanders's statement read. “These are baseball oligarchs who, over the last year, eliminated their affiliation with over 40 minor league teams, not only causing needless economic pain and suffering, but also breaking the hearts of fans in small and mid-sized towns all over America. These are baseball oligarchs who continue to pay minor league players totally inadequate wages and want to eliminate the jobs of another 900 minor league players. These are baseball oligarchs who receive billions of dollars in corporate welfare from taxpayers to build expensive stadiums.”
Sanders concluded with a pledge to introduce legislation meant to challenge MLB's antitrust law exemption. The longstanding exemption allows the league, in the words of Illinois senator Dick Durbin, to act as a “lawful monopoly,” which Sanders stands in opposition against.
“It would be wrong for Congress to simply celebrate today’s agreement and move on. We must prevent the greed of baseball’s oligarchs from destroying the game,” Sanders said in his statement. “The best way to do that is to end Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption and I will be introducing legislation to do just that.”
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