World Umpires Association
The World Umpires Association is the union representing Major League Baseball umpires in labor negotiations. The Association was formed in 1999 following a disastrous negociating strategy by its predecessor, the Major League Umpires Association, led by Richie Phillips. The former association had counselled umpires to submit their resignations en masse late in the season, in order to put pressure on Major League Baseball to give in to demands. But instead of capitulating, MLB decided to accept the resignations, and then rehired only some of the umpires on an individual basis, filling out the ranks with umpires promoted from the minor leagues. As a result, members of the association turned against Phillips and formed a new and much less confrontational union.
On February 24, 2000, the World Umpires Association was recognized by the National Labor Relations Board as the negotiating arm of umpires in collective bargaining negociations. On February 28, it elected John Hirschbeck, leader of the dissident faction of MLUA along with Joe Brinkman, as its first president.
Contrary to its predecessor, the Association is managed from within, with experienced umpires forming its Board of Directors, and legal counsel only performing an advisory role - one of the major complaints against Phillips was that a non-umpire had way too much power in deciding union matters. The Association not only includes Major League umpires among its membership, but also umpires from the two AAA minor leagues - the International League and the Pacific Coast League - who are regularly called upon to fill temporary or permanent vacancies in the ranks of Major League umpires, as well as international umpires working in tournaments sanctioned by Major League Baseball such as the World Baseball Classic.
The most recent labor contract between the umpires and Major League Baseball was ratified in January 2015 and is valid through the end of 2019.
In addition to its role as a bargaining unit, the Association is also involved in development of young umpires and in other work to improve umpiring in general.