MLB, MiLB Lobbying Pays Off
It appears Major and Minor League Baseball’s multi-year effort to squash a lawsuit attempting for players to be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act is about to succeed.
The new omnibus spending bill that both houses of congress are looking to sign to prevent a government shutdown on Friday contains the “Save America’s Pastime Act" which was written specifically to shut down a lawsuit that could lead to minor leaguers receiving increased wages.
If the bill passes and is signed into law by President Donald Trump, the act would explicitly lay out that baseball players are seasonal employees not subject to overtime laws. The bill would require the players be paid the minimum wage for 40 hours a week during the regular season. Players would not be eligible for overtime and the bill spells out that they will not be paid during spring training, which is the case under the current system as well.
The bill would end the legal dispute at the heart of the current lawsuit where some ex-minor league players are suing for overtime pay. MLB and MiLB have contended that baseball players are seasonal employees who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime rules. The players contend that they are protected by overtime and minimum wage laws and as such have been cheated out of earned overtime wages since they worked well more than 40 hours a week. During the season, players often play on six or seven days a week and have extensive work travel.
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Since the bill includes a provision that players must receive minimum wage for 40 hours a week in season, it would actually be a small pay increase for the lowest-paid affiliated minor leaguers, some of which currently make $1,100 a month. Under the new bill, they would make $290 a week.
MiLB president Pat O'Conner has said that without such a bill, minor leagues or teams could shut down because of increased labor costs. Player advocates have said that as a $10 billion a year industry, they believe baseball could easily afford paying minor league players higher wages.