Sanders calls for end to MLB antitrust exemption

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to reporters as he arrives to the Capitol for a series of votes including the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act and a judicial nomination on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for Congress to end Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption Thursday as news broke that the league and players have reached a labor deal to end a months-long lockout. 

“I’m delighted to see an agreement reached so that the Major League Baseball season can start. But the recent and unacceptable behavior of MLB’s owners has taught us some very important lessons that cannot be ignored,” Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

“We are dealing with an organization controlled by a number of billionaires who collectively are worth over $100 billion. It should be clear to all that these baseball oligarchs have shown that they are far more concerned about increasing their wealth and profits than in strengthening our national pastime.” 

Sanders cited the recent moves by owners to downsize Minor League Baseball, ending their affiliation with more than 40 minor league teams, which he said would eliminate job opportunities for some 900 minor league players. 

“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. 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,” Sanders said. 

Sanders’ remarks follow similar sentiment from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also said it’s time for Congress to reconsider the MLB’s antitrust exemption. 

“Enough,” Durbin wrote in a tweet Wednesday night. “After almost 100 days of the MLB lockout, it’s time to reconsider MLB’s special antitrust exemption, which allows them to act as a lawful monopoly. Fans across America deserve better.” 

MLB has been operating with an antitrust exemption since 1922, after the Supreme Court decided the league could suppress wages and make other business decisions impacting teams not normally allowed under anti-monopoly rules. 

The league’s player’s union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, reportedly agreed Thursday to a tentative labor agreement to end the 99-day lockout, which began last December. 

This was the ninth work stoppage in MLB history and the first one since the 1994-1995 players’ strike, in which most of the 1994 regular and postseason were canceled.

Tags Bernie Sanders Dick Durbin MLB MLB lockout

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