Unsportsmanlike Conduct?Professional baseball teams have released players active in organizing a players'' council to free agents － a measure intended to end the careers of those who stand up to baseball club owners. We urge that this decision be reconsidered, for this unfair treatment of the athletes will not help resolve the situation.
The professional baseball players'' council was formed to protect athletes'' interests. The United States and Japan, went through a similar process to develop players'' unions. In Korea, the current goal is to register the council as an incorporated body. The baseball teams seem to loathe the idea because the council is likely to develop into a union. The council was to be launched in January, but the baseball teams and the Korea Baseball Organization weighed in to prevent the move. In the process, the two sides agreed to launch the council after the end of the season.
The club owners now claim that it is premature to establish a council when every team suffers an annual deficit of billions of won. They explained that this year is particularly inauspicious because parent companies are struggling as business slumps and economic prospects worsen. However, driving players out of the league cannot be justified. The teams assert that they have not colluded, but the way the situation has developed suggests that they are figuring to tame all their athletes by making scapegoats out of the leaders. If the teams cut short the careers of some players for having pressed for their rights, this is a blatant act that denies their freedom of association.
It is also a breach of the Fair Trade Law. Statements that some team executives have made to players could even be construed as threats. If social justice is alive and well in our society, discipline by the Fair Trade Commission or action by public prosecutors should be taken.
The trade commission has already pointed out problems with the Korean Baseball Organization''s regulations and contracts. Nevertheless, the teams threaten that players may have to give up professional baseball with the closure of their workplaces if the fight over the council continues. The teams should quickly recover rationality, reverse their plan to release players, and find a solution by sitting down face-to-face with the athletes to work out a solution.