U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owner of the San Diego Padres that all Americans should be outraged by their plans to close a major employer in rural Caledonia.
The closure is expected to eliminate approximately 80 jobs in the community, with many of them moving offshore to China.
In a strongly worded letter Saturday, Smith demanded MLB and Siedler Equity Partners reverse their decision to close Miken Sports’ Caledonia manufacturing facility, a long-time employer that produces baseball helmets for the MLB and non-wood bats for other baseball and softball players across the country.
Miken is jointly-owned by the MLB and Seidler Equity Partners. Seidler Equity Partners Co-Founder and Managing Director Peter Seidler also owns the San Diego Padres baseball team.
“Caledonia has a population of about 2,800 and will face significant hardship from the loss of Miken’s jobs and community contributions,” Smith wrote. “Adding to my outrage is the fact that you will reportedly be moving Miken’s bat production to China, which flies in the face of MLB’s status as an iconic American sports league. I strongly urge you to reverse the planned closure of the Miken Sports production facility in Caledonia and instead commit to making long-term investments in the plant.”
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Smith pointed out that Major League teams, including the Padres, have benefited from billions in taxpayer stadium subsidies, and that MLB has long benefitted from an exemption from federal anti-trust law and from relaxed overtime rules.
“In exchange for these taxpayer-funded benefits and special exemptions, Americans should be able to count on MLB to, at a minimum, avoid being complicit in the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China,” Smith wrote. “Unfortunately, MLB, in concert with Seidler Equity Partners, appears to be more focused on its bottom line than on honoring any commitments to American workers.”