Moore: Minor league wages and the new commissioner

From Jack Moore at The Hardball Times on January 19, 2015:

In the 20 years since the 1994-1995 player strike, baseball has enjoyed a period of almost total labor peace. From 1972 through 1994, Major League Baseball endured five strikes — 1972, 1980, 1981, 1985 and 1994 — and three lockouts — 1973, 1976, 1990. While there have been some close calls since, the last two decades have not seen a single game cancelled due to labor disputes, arguably the largest feather in departing commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig’s cap.

All is quiet on the major league front for incoming commissioner Rob Manfred, as the Major League Baseball Player’s Association now spends most of its time deciding just how harshly its members should be punished for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Rather, Manfred’s fight will come at the minor league level. Two lawsuits challenging the minor league system were filed in 2014. The labor peace at the major league level is predicated on the cheap talent provided by the minor league system, and quashing the threats of these lawsuits will be a top priority of Manfred’s early days in office.

In Feburary, Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle sued Major League Baseball and its teams claiming they were denied minimum wage and overtime pay due. The suit notes minor leaguers make as a little as $1,100 per month, which, as Baseball America noted, is “below fast-food standards” on an hourly basis. Selig has denied all allegations of misdeed by MLB or Minor League Baseball. Stan Brand, MiLB’s executive director, was much more forceful in a statement released in December. Brand compared the threat as equivalent or greater than the threat posed by attacks on baseball’s antitrust exemption in the late 1990s.

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Originally published: January 19, 2015. Last Updated: January 19, 2015.