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Factions in MLB players’ union fight issue critical statements aimed at each other

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players’ union head Tony Clark made his first public response to an effort aimed at ousting his chief negotiator, calling it a secret campaign with an outside agenda.

Clark issued a statement Sunday in response to a statement by Harry Marino, a former union official who hopes players will remove Major League Baseball Players Association deputy director Bruce Meyer, the union’s chief negotiator of the 2022 collective bargaining agreement.

Marino, a former minor leaguer who headed successful efforts to unionize players with minor league contracts, claimed union members are being bullied and retaliated against for expressing their opinions for change.

“For decades, the bedrock of the MLBPA has been an engaged membership that does not bend to outside agendas,” Clark said in a statement. “It therefore comes as no surprise that a coordinated and covert effort to challenge this foundation has troubled players at all levels of professional baseball.”

After minor leaguers joined the union, it restructured its executive board to include 38 players with major league contracts and 34 with minor league contracts. The executive board makes decisions by majority vote, such as hiring the executive director, and the staff reports to the executive director.

“How hard the players are willing to fight for the changes they want is a decision for the players,” Marino said. ”As a former minor league player who played a key role in bringing 5,500 new members to the union, I will never turn down a request for assistance from any group of major league or minor league players. My sole aim is to serve the players and I will continue to make myself available to do so in whatever way I am asked.”

Clark, a former All-Star first baseman, has headed the union for 11 years and is just its fifth executive director after Marvin Miller (1966-82, ’83), Ken Moffett (1982-83), Donald Fehr (1983-2009) and Michael Weiner (2009-13).

Clark became executive director following Weiner’s death from a brain tumor. In late 2022, the union announced Clark’s contract had been extended five years through 2027. He earned $2.25 million in 2022, according to the union’s financial report.

Meyer, a former partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and executive at the NHL Players Association, was hired as senior director of collective bargaining and legal in August 2018 and promoted to deputy executive director in July 2022. He earned $1.36 million in 2022.

Marino earned $68,977 during the portion of 2022 he was on the union staff as an assistant general counsel.

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