Apr 05

Minor-league ballplayers should strike

If you somehow thought MLB was a pretty enlightened employer, disabuse yourself of that notion. In an interview Commissioner Rob Manfred dances all around the idea that the provision of the spending bill Congress just passed which exempted MLB from fair labor law is no big thing, really. Minor leaguers are just seasonal employees like migrant workers and teachers, after all.

“In terms of the mechanics of it, honestly, for us, the wage issue is money. And we deal with money issues all the time. The part of it that was of most concern to clubs was: How do you decide what’s overtime for a minor league baseball player? Player decides he wants to stay and take extra batting. Is that overtime? He decided. I didn’t ask him to do that! Player goes to the gym to work out: Is that a working hour, is it not a working hour? It’s just not realistic. They’re on the road all the time, there’s not time clocks available. And that’s why those laws — nobody ever thought those laws applied to players.

Can you say “specious argument,” class?

Here’s another one:

“You know, look: I think that the way that we think about it—okay—is that we provide playing opportunities for minor-league players. It’s a six-month job. Just like entertainers often work six months at a pop. The other six months are the responsibility of the employee! They’re just not our responsibility.

What the hey, they get paid huge sums for the six months they play, right? No.

The act will not give raises to players at any of these levels (note: the federally-recognized poverty line is $12,140 per year for single-individual households).

AAA: $2,150/month in their first year, $2,400/month in second year, $2,700/month in third, for a 5.5-month season.
(Total: ~$11,825-$14,850 per year.)

AA: $1,700/month, goes up by $100/month in additional years.
(Total: ~$9,350+ per year)

High-A, Low-A: $1,100-1,500/month, goes up by $50 per year in additional years.
(Total: ~$6,050-8,400 per year)

Dominican Summer League: $300 per month, $900 per year for the three-month season. (These players are exempt from the raise, since their labor takes place in another country, and is not subject to U.S. minimum-wage laws.)

Enlightened, MLB is not. What it is is cheap with its employees while spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress, including $1.32M in 2017 alone, to get this sweetheart provision inserted into this spending bill.

Click that first link and read the whole interview. Levi Weaver did a good job asking questions and a better job annotating the answers.