Roberts: Can minor-league players get paid without a union?

From Sean Roberts at The Hardball Times on May 16, 2019:

Players who are not on the 40-man major league roster are not eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association, and as such, are not guaranteed the same protections or benefits of collective bargaining as their union brethren. According to Emily Waldon of The Athletic, the average minor league compensation for 2019 will be between $6,100 for Single-A players and $14,850 at the Triple-A level. For the entire year. There are, however, avenues that players and their advocates could pursue to improve minor league pay and working conditions. It would be extremely difficult without organized leadership, but whereas many of the disputes in major league baseball are litigated through collective bargaining and/or the courts, legislative policy and advocacy present a unique opportunity to these players.

Last year’s somewhat hyperbolically named “Save America’s Pastime Act” ensured that players wouldn’t be paid overtime under federal regulations for anything worked above 40 hours, which surely every minor league player is doing in one form or another. But now, Major League Baseball is even getting in on state legislation that would stymie improving the working conditions of their farm hands. Arizona House Bill 2180 was introduced earlier this year and aimed to exempt minor league players in the state from the state’s soon-to-be $12 per hour minimum wage, as voted on by the electorate. As states increase their own minimum wage laws above the federal requirement, there may be some hope for minor leaguers who are not on the 40-man major league roster to improve their situation above the paltry monthly salary they receive during the season.

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Originally published: May 17, 2019. Last Updated: May 17, 2019.