New legislation has been introduced in congress to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, the act which guarantees workers a minimum wage and overtime payment. The amendment seeks to make an exception for minor league baseball players. The MLB as well as the MiLB (the governing association for minor league baseball in America) have had their PR machines hard at work to convince everyone that this legislation is needed.
The MiLB website claims:
“The legislation would amend the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to clarify that Minor League Baseball players are not subject to a law that was intended to protect workers in traditional hourly-rate jobs. A pending lawsuit in a California federal court makes a first-of-its-kind claim that the federal overtime laws should apply to Minor League Baseball players.
This suit threatens baseball’s decades-old player development system with an unprecedented cost increase, which would jeopardize the skills-enhancement role of the minor leagues and the existence of Minor League Baseball itself. As a result of this lawsuit filed on behalf of thousands of current and former players, many cities would be in jeopardy of losing their Minor League Baseball teams, resulting in the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs nationwide, shuttering tax-payer funded ballparks and creating a void in affordable family-friendly entertainment.”
That statement is so full of falsehoods, where to begin?? First, the act was designed to provide a base for American workers, so that no person who works close to 40 hours a week will have to live below the poverty level. No matter if they are workers in “traditional hourly-rate jobs”. Right now, a person who works 40 hours a week makes $290 per week; $15,080.00 per year. Hardly a windfall for any employee. Yet Minor League baseball is fighting to even pay the players this measly amount.
The minor league baseball association provides no numbers to back up their claims that paying minor league baseball players would “threaten the existence of Minor League Baseball itself.” Per Forbes magazine, Major League baseball, the main benefactor from the minor league baseball system, made over 9 billion dollars in revenue last year.
As “Stevie Ray Batguy” said in his excellent post/letter to his congressman here:
“The Uniform Player Contract players are required to sign binds them to a team and keeps them from shopping their services elsewhere. Though players are only paid during the season, they are required to perform duties such as training, meetings and the like all year long and their duties and obligations to the club extend on a year-round basis too.
MiLBers are the lifeblood of the game, even the ones who don’t make the bigs. They are the future coaches, scouts, advocates for the sport. While a few are fortunate enough to receive signing bonuses large enough to support themselves for a few years, or have a strong network of well-off family to supplement their salaries, the vast majority of these young men have to resort to sleeping on floors and couches, several to an apartment or hotel room, just to scrape by. Nobody expects minor leaguers to make a fortune, but they need to at least make a living wage during the season. They need to be compensated fairly for the time and effort they put in. And by that I mean ALL of the time and effort, including the mandatory workouts and Spring Training (for which ballplayers earn a small per diem).”
Louisville Bats president Gary Ulmer says:
“Should the California litigation be successful, teams like the Louisville Bats, Bowling Green Hot Rods and Lexington Legends may well disappear, along with a source of wholesome entertainment for Kentucky families, and an economic generator for those cities,”
If the minor league teams are providing feeder employees to a 9 billion dollar industrty and are an economic generator for their cities; shouldn’t they be required to pay their employees just like every other business in America? Of course they should. Aren’t these ball players entitled to make a living wage like everyone else in America? Of course they are.