The Korea Professional Baseball Players Association yesterday announced it will set up a union despite heated opposition from the Korea Baseball Organization and the leagues eight teams.
Association chairman Sohn Min-han, who plays for the Busan Lotte Giants, told a news conference in a Seoul hotel, We players will strongly unite even if some suffer damage, adding, We will form a players union holding the right to collective action and bargaining.
Korean baseball has risen to the top of the world by winning the gold medal in last years Beijing Olympics and second place in this years World Baseball Classic. But players face the same grim situation as before. Our association has urged the Korean Baseball Organization to improve the situation and ensure players rights, only to be completely denied.
The association will set up a preparatory committee to be chaired by Sohn and two players from each of the eight teams will serve on it to set up the union.
In response, the league and the eight teams said in a joint statement, It is impossible for pro baseball players to set up a union since they are considered self-employed rather than workers.
They cited a 2001 agreement that players cannot incorporate a union until the league attracts eight million spectators per year.
Kwon Shi-hyung, secretary-general of the players association, refuted the claim, however. The incorporation and establishment of a union are two different issues, he said. We question if the Korean Baseball Organization and the teams will accept our demands unconditionally if games attract more than six million spectators a year.
When players demand better working conditions, teams always use the excuse of chronic deficits without considering the effects of publicity from running baseball teams.