Major League Baseball is continuing to hold firm on its stance that minor league players should not receive overtime pay.
Commissioner Rob Manfred recently addressed the Save America’s Pastime Act, a bill that would amend the Fair Labor Act of 1938 to exempt the work of minor league players from overtime compensation. While there was considerable backlash directed at MLB in the days after the bill was introduced—in fact one of its sponsors, U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos, withdrew her name from the legislation —Manfred says that the economics of overtime pay do not work for MLB or Minor League Baseball. The bill was a response to a pending lawsuit that was filed two years ago by former MiLB players, who are arguing that the lack of collective bargaining in the minors violates state and federal laws.
One of the concerns that is being put forth is that lower-level MiLB classifications could be eliminated as the result of increased minor league salaries. Simply put, MLB has made it clear that it could decide that player development at the lowest ranks could be handled by other sources as the league adjusts to higher salaries.
That is something that Manfred is reiterating, along with his thoughts as to how overtime regulation is not meant to apply to athletes. More from the AP:
“This is not a dollars-and-cents issue,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday during his annual meeting with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “It is the irrationality of the application of traditional workplace overtime rules to minor league baseball players. It just makes no sense. I want to take extra BP — am I working, or am I not working? Travel time — is every moment that you’re on a bus, is that your commute that you don’t get paid for or is that working time? Where’s the clock? Who’s going to punch a clock to keep track of those hours? When you’re eating in a clubhouse with a spread that the employer provided, is that working time or is that your lunch break?”
Minor league minimums are $1,100 a month for a five-month season at Class A, $1,500 a month at Double-A and $2,150 at Triple-A, and players get $25 meal money on road trips and a dinner is provided at ballparks after games. For players on 40-man major league rosters who are optioned to the minors, the minimum is $41,400 per season.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero granted a motion last October to give the case conditional class action status.
“We could figure out the economics,” Manfred said. “The administrative burden associated with the application of these laws to professional athletes that were never intended to apply to professional athletes is the real issue. And the litigation is going to run its course, but I have to tell you this is area where excessive regulation could have a really dramatic impact on the size of minor league baseball.”
The Save America’s Pastime Act, or H.R. 5580—which still has a sponsor in U.S. Rep Brett Guthrie—was formally introduced on June 24, and was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.