Isn’t it dialectical? Because of their visibility and militancy, millionaire ball players are the current key to advancing the class struggle in the United States.
The Major League Baseball Players Association has the greatest opportunity to rally workers onto the offensive since Reagan crushed the air traffic controllers union.
How thrilling it will be on opening day, April 2, if Ken Griffey, Cal Ripken, Jose Canseco, et al., put their feet and seven-digit salaries on the line to force the likes of racist Marge Schott and obnoxious George Steinbrenner to take their scab players and salary cap and stuff them.
The strike began last August as a defense against classic union-busting. Owners demanded that players accept a limit on their salaries. The union refused, as they certainly should have, citing 1993 baseball revenues of $1.8 billion. Owners then chose to lose immense World Series receipts and National Labor Relations Board decisions rather than bargain with their players.
Owners have conspired to keep players chattel for nearly all of baseball’s history. Players could not voluntarily leave the teams, which could “reserve” them for exclusive service at non-negotiable wages or trade them at will. In 1969, Curt Flood, the superb Black outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, sparked the drive that won veteran players the right to be free agents who can join the highest-bidding team. All players should have this right.
Today, fans pay to see professional players compete in parks that are publicly funded. The owners are pretty much superfluous, yet they “earned” disclosed profits of $50 million in 1993. And these are the guys whipping up moral outrage over players’ salaries!
Fans, organized labor, and FS readers can help win this vital strike and promote the interests of all working people. Boycott and picket scab ball games. Urge the major leaguers to hold exhibition games to benefit other strikers, like the intransigent Staley workers in Illinois; this would electrify the entire labor movement.
In the words of Yankee great Yogi Berra, “When you come to a crossroads, take it!”