H.R. 5580, titled “Save America’s Pastime Act,” was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) last Friday, a bill that amends some language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to make it so minor league players aren’t protected under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball has publicly endorsed the bill, as Josh Norris of Baseball America points out.
Minor League Baseball received a class action lawsuit in October last year, which alleged that the league underpays and exploits the players. As Craig explained last year, minor leaguers are often paid less than $7,500 per season despite often requiring players to put in more hours than the typical work day. According to MiLB, “This suit threatens baseball’s decades-old player development system with an unprecedented cost increase…”
MiLB continues, saying, “Many cities would be in jeopardy of losing their Minor League Baseball teams.” Neither statement is true, as each Major League Baseball team is responsible for maintaining its minor league affiliates. Major League Baseball pulled in more than $9 billion in revenues in 2015, per Maury Brown of Forbes. But it can’t afford to pay minor leaguers a fair wage?
The legislation also adds this:
(f) In any action or proceeding commenced before, on, or after the date of enactment of the Save America’s Pastime Act, no employer shall be subject to any liability or punishment under this Act on account of any violation of section 6, 7, or 11(c) with respect to any work performed before, on, or after such date of enactment for which the exemption under section 13(a)(19) is applicable
That basically means no one can be held responsible for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. How convenient!
Due to the Players’ Union, no one could get away with suggesting legislation like this if it were exploiting Major League Baseball players. Because minor leaguers lack union representation, they have been and continue to get shafted. If this legislation disgusts you — and it should, unequivocally — contact the relevant representatives to let them know.