The ‘move’ of Sonia Sotomayor: we remember the role of the Puerto Rican judge for the end of the Major League strike in 1995

Understanding the events of the story often does not only depend on knowing more about the protagonists. At least in baseball, to better understand the events that have rocked the sport in the United States, you need to know about “all the players.”

Even of those who were ‘behind the lines’, as could well have been the case of a Puerto Rican who had to do directly or indirectly with the resolution of the 1994 strike in the major league baseball (MLB, for its acronym in English), without throwing or hitting a single ball.

That was the then federal judge for the Southern District of New York, Sonia Sotomayor, now a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

His performance from then is remembered, at a time when Major League Baseball has been in the midst of a lockout since last December 2, and after MLB requested this week the intervention of a federal mediator to try to resolve the conflict. But the entry into the game of a representative of the Federal Service of Mediation and Conciliation depended on the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) approving the move, which was finally rejected on Friday.

Thus, the roadblock appears to be more serious than expected, and not only will the start of spring training that was scheduled for February 15 be affected, but now even the start of the 2022 campaign, scheduled for on March 31.

Sotomayor’s role was so important, it’s worth noting that the seven-and-a-half-month strike was stopped on April 2, 1995, not because MLB and the Players Association agreed. In reality, the strike that forced the cancellation of the rest of the 1994 season, including their World Series, came to an end the following year and play was made in 1995, thanks to a Sotomayor court order.

Fourteen years after her intervention as a district judge that ended the baseball strike, then-President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. (Bill Kostroum)

Two days before the strike ended, and in the absence of an agreement to start playing baseball, the federal judge ordered to reinstate the terms and conditions of the previous collective agreement, which had expired the year before. To be more precise, the parties would not reach a new agreement until the end of 1996.

In other words, if it was played in 1995, it was not because the parties smoked the peace pipe at the negotiating table.

In fact, as The Washington Post reviewed last December, in an article that reviewed the role played by the judge of Puerto Rican descent, the directors of the Major Leagues had taken before the resolution of the strike, a decision that, if it had materialized, would have worsened the labor conflict even more. They were willing for the 1995 season to begin with the use of replacement players.

“Some say Judge Sotomayor saved baseball,” President Barack Obama said when he nominated Sotomayor to the high court 14 years later, the Post recalled in its article. “She had a big role in ending the strike,” said Dan Silverman, who, as regional director of the New York office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 1995, filed the board’s request for an injunction. “She understood the issues, handled them brilliantly, and did so in a timely manner.”

Since December 1994, the owners of Major League Baseball teams had threatened to play with replacement players if the strike did not end before the opening day of the 1995 campaign.

Between moves from one side to the other, the players’ union accused MLB of violating labor laws. And Silverman’s office recommended that the NLRB’s legal counsel seek authorization from the NLRB’s board and then petition a federal court for a temporary injunction. The NLRB board approved by a split vote to seek such relief. So Sotomayor, the Post reviewed in its article, was randomly selected to preside over the case.

“Issuing an injunction before Opening Day is important to ensure that the symbolic value of that day is not affected by an unfair labor practice and the NLRB’s inability to take effective action against its perpetuation,” Sotomayor said in her court ruling. .

His order would be upheld four days later by the Court of Appeals, and the 1995 season began on April 25.

Specifically, Sotomayor’s decision did not lead to an agreement between the parties, but it did lead to that and the following 1996 season being played, after which MLB and the Association agreed to make way for a new collective agreement. Since its court order in 1995, 26 years of labor peace passed in the Major Leagues until the team owners decreed a lockout since last December 2.

We would love to say thanks to the writer of this post for this outstanding material

The ‘move’ of Sonia Sotomayor: we remember the role of the Puerto Rican judge for the end of the Major League strike in 1995