Citing the potential for conflicts with a league salary cap, the St. Paul Saints (independent; American Association) are requesting to exempt players from Minnesota minimum wage law.
The issue with Minnesota’s minimum wage law, according to the Saints, is that could trigger an increase in player payroll that violates the American Association’s salary cap. At the beginning of 2018, the minimum wage for businesses across the state with an annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more increased to $9.65 per hour, while rising to $7.87 per hour for smaller businesses.
Minnesota law exempts some seasonal employers from minimum wage requirements, but players at the minor league and independent levels are not specifically covered by that exemption. The Saints argue that the exemption needs to be put into place, pointing to the salary cap requirements that American Association teams must follow and how an increase in player payroll could affect their ability to operate. More from The Pioneer Press:
“We’re in a league that has a salary cap,” Saints Executive Vice President and General Manager Derek Sharrer told state lawmakers earlier this week. “So … if minimum wage and overtime laws were to impact us, then we may be in a position to not be able to abide by our league bylaws, which would force us not to be able to operate.”
The issue comes just three years after the Saints moved into their new home, CHS Field, in downtown St. Paul. Public funds contributed $51.4 million to the ballpark’s construction.
The Saints are part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. That league caps a team’s total salary — for the entire 22-person roster — at $115,000 annually.
Players are on contract and make anywhere from $800 to $4,000 per month, depending on their experience. On average, they make $5,227 for the four-month season.
Traditionally, federal law has qualified players at the minor league and independent levels as apprentices, making their pay exempt from minimum wage requirements. There have been efforts to clarify that law, however, particularly amidst an ongoing legal dispute over whether Major League Baseball has violated minimum wage laws in its pay for minor league players. This is not an issue that affects only the Saints; while the specifics are tied to Minnesota law, we’ll see more and more states and cities address this issue with baseball clubs, and independent baseball will definitely be affected.