milb wages may be exempted by lobbyists

A pox on both their houses. This is what gets the sides together?


By Mike DeBonis March 18 


A massive government spending bill that Congress is expected to consider this week could include a provision exempting Minor League Baseball players from federal labor laws, according to three congressional officials familiar with the talks.

The exemption would represent the culmination of more than two years of lobbying by Major League Baseball, which has sought to preempt a spate of lawsuits that have been filed by minor leaguers alleging they have been illegally underpaid.

The league has long claimed exemptions for seasonal employees and apprenticeships, allowing its clubs to pay players as little as $1,100 a month, well under the pay that would be dictated under federal minimum wage and overtime standards. But with those exemptions under legal challenge, Major League Baseball has paid lobbyists hundreds of thousands of dollars to write a specific exemption into the law.

The provision does not appear in any of the draft spending bills assembled by the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that deal with labor matters. But the officials familiar with the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said the issue is under serious consideration by top party leaders.


[Congress has one week to pass a $1.3 trillion spending bill. Here’s what you need to know.]

The $1.3 trillion spending bill is expected to be released as soon as Monday evening and must pass ahead of a March 23 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Two of the officials said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), an avid Washington Nationals fan, is among those backing the provision, although all three said leaders of both parties have been willing to entertain the measure.

Spokesmen for McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) all declined to comment.

A request for comment sent to Major League Baseball on Sunday was answered by Pat O’Conner, the president of Minor League Baseball, a separate organization that contracts with the major leagues. Minor league players are paid under contracts signed with major league teams.

O’Conner said the litigation underway represents an existential threat to minor league clubs, which could see their business model upended if courts rule that players must be paid according to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.


“We’re not saying that it shouldn’t go up,” he said. “We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

But Garrett R. Broshuis, a St. Louis lawyer representing a group of players who have alleged violations of federal wage and hour laws, said congressional action would deny players their basic rights.

“This is about billionaire owners using their clout to try to pass something that isn’t going through the normal procedures of legislature and that is only going to make thousands of minor leaguers suffer even more,” he said. “We’re just talking about basic minimum wage laws here — the same laws that McDonald’s has to comply with, the same laws that Walmart has to comply with. And so surely if Walmart or McDonald’s can find a way to comply with those laws, then Major League Baseball can find a way to comply with them, too.”


The lawsuit Broshuis is involved in is under litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. A similar lawsuit challenging minor league compensation on antitrust grounds was dismissed by that court in June.


The Save America’s Pastime Act, a stand-alone bill granting the exemption for minor leaguers, was introduced in the House in 2016 but received no consideration. But lobbyists continued to push for the legislation. In 2017, an MLB executive and the Duberstein Group, a prominent public affairs firm retained by the league, reported lobbying the House and the Senate on the issue.

Minor League Baseball also reported lobbying for the exemption, albeit spending a fraction as much. O’Conner said that he has met with several lawmakers, including Schumer, since the push for the carve-out began and that he has won bipartisan support.

“We’re in 42 states, 160 cities. We’ve got over $3 billion of infrastructure, much of which is still being paid off by the clubs and the communities where they exist,” he said. “This is about constituents, this is about jobs at home, and this is about quality of life at home.”

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“We’re in 42 states, 160 cities. We’ve got over $3 billion of infrastructure, much of which is still being paid off by the clubs and the communities where they exist,” he said. “This is about constituents, this is about jobs at home, and this is about quality of life at home.”

This is the biggest nauseating lie. Yes, "clubs" are paying it off; THE MILB CLUB pays this. The MLB club pays the salaries of the players - a non-expense of the MILB club. Indeed, paying the players more would DIRECTLY benefit the local community where the MILB plays. Unfortunately, today most MILB clubs are owned by entities (owning multiple teams) and have no real tie to the local community. The days of the local car dealer owning the team are past. This provision actually hurts the communities it is broadcast to help.

Doesn't matter how strong the case for paying minimum wage is, Congress can pass a law - the very law proposed in 2016 - exempting Minor league players from the minimum wage laws. That law would override current federal law, pre-empt state wage laws, and end the suit. (Once MLB has an exemption, it can even reduce wages for MILB players.)

(The law could be written to "clarify" MLB's position that minor leaguers were always intended to be exempt.)

I'm surprised that mayors from the towns affected aren't complaining - the law would directly impact and adversely effect their towns. Increasing pay by even a few hundred dollars a month would help all a town's businesses as the players would turn around and spend their largesse at local businesses.

There is something that parents/players can do: call your local representative and educate them. Most don't get deep in the weeds to understand a bill; in this case your rep would need to understand the difference between MLB, MILB, who pays what costs, who owes what obligations and who would be hurt (local towns) and who would benefit (large corporate absentee owners). If your local representative has an MILB franchise in the district, it should be easier to educate him/her.

So, make the calls!

 

Goosegg posted:

“We’re in 42 states, 160 cities. We’ve got over $3 billion of infrastructure, much of which is still being paid off by the clubs and the communities where they exist,” he said. “This is about constituents, this is about jobs at home, and this is about quality of life at home.”

This is the biggest nauseating lie. Yes, "clubs" are paying it off; THE MILB CLUB pays this. The MLB club pays the salaries of the players - a non-expense of the MILB club. Indeed, paying the players more would DIRECTLY benefit the local community where the MILB plays. Unfortunately, today most MILB clubs are owned by entities (owning multiple teams) and have no real tie to the local community. The days of the local car dealer owning the team are past. This provision actually hurts the communities it is broadcast to help.

I think that major factual point is that there is a distinct divide between the financial health of a MiLB team and the wages paid to the players who are rostered on that team (whose payroll is paid by MLB teams).  There is some argument that higher wages might reduce the number of teams affiliated with MLB, but the dollar amounts being tossed around would not seem to justify this argument.  It is relatively certain that all AA and AAA teams would survive without question as would all the short season leagues simply out of necessity.  The comments made about infrastructure "still being paid off" is along the lines of fear mongering and simply not true as are all the other fears laid out.  

Does anyone know what role "Minor League Baseball" (whose president was quoted) plays as it relates to players and owners in MiLB?

Also, does anyone know what laws, if any, govern seasonal employees or apprentices?  Is there anything like those which govern tipped employees?

I like the idea of lobbying. If someone has the knowledge to put out a few bullets, I think it's well worth the time. We do some lobbying on newspaper related issues here in Iowa and it's very effective. Seems crazy people have time to worry about an issue like this when the whole government might shut down, but heck. Money talks. And if the clubs and the owners are the only ones talking, it talks even louder.

 

Root, it may go something like this: the players argue the law should be interpreted one way and the owners in another way. The court would then look to legislative intent in devining a meaning and resolving ambiguities. The amended law would be clear that it's purpose (the amended law) is NOT TO CHANGE EXISTING law, rather, to clarify existing law. The court then hangs its hat on that.

Goosegg posted:

Root, it may go something like this: the players argue the law should be interpreted one way and the owners in another way. The court would then look to legislative intent in devining a meaning and resolving ambiguities. The amended law would be clear that it's purpose (the amended law) is NOT TO CHANGE EXISTING law, rather, to clarify existing law. The court then hangs its hat on that.

No, they can't do that. Any analysis of legislative intent cannot be derived from sources that did not exist at the time legislation was passed. Not to mention, an existing legislative body can't clear up what a previous legislative body intended.

fenwaysouth posted:

I'm not sure which is worse....greedy owners or the politicians that protect the interests of the greedy owners. 

 

I understand from the corrupt politician’s point of view. MLB purchased his vote. It allows him/her to get re-elected and be bought off by more special interest groups. By the time the politician leaves Washington he’s wealthy. 

The problem is now they don’t leave. Being a congressman or a senator is just a 174K per year internship for becoming a 2M per year lobbyist. 

In 1975 A level players made $600 per month. Just adjusted for inflation A level players should make $2,850 per month. It’s a difficult argument to make their salaries shouldn’t be adjusted for inflation. That is, unless you have politicians in your back pocket.

84% of American MLB players come from the top ten rounds of the draft. A tenth rounder averages signing for about 100K. The top Caribbean prospects get decent to high priced bonuses. I’m sure MLB figures if many of the rest of the prospects give up and go home baseball will be just fine. 

The minor leaguers don’t have anyone with clout behind them. They don’t have money to buy politicians. 

 

 

Root, that's what I always thought. But here is a quick find:

"Subsequent Legislation

If the views of a later Congress are expressed in a duly enacted statute, then the views embodied in that statute must be interpreted and applied. Occasionally a later enactment declares congressional intent about interpretation of an earlier enactment rather than directly amending or clarifying the earlier law. Such action can be given prospective effect because, “however inartistic, it ... stands on its own feet as a valid enactment.”332 “Subsequent legislation declaring the intent of an earlier statute is entitled to great weight in statutory construction.”333

332 F. REED DICKERSON, THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF STATUTES 179 (1975).

333 Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367, 380-81 (1969). By contrast, a “mere statement in a conference report ... as to what the Committee believes an earlier statute meant is obviously less weighty” because Congress has not “proceeded formally through the legislative process.” South Carolina v. Regan, 465 U.S. 367, 379 n.17 (1984)."

I guess we can debate whether or not a yet undecided case on a not yet interpreted law is prospective or not. But, the court doesn't even need to go that far; the court can simply rule without explaining, or it could rule by adopting MLB's interpretation without even referencing the new amendment. 

Goosegg posted:

Root, that's what I always thought. But here is a quick find:

"Subsequent Legislation

If the views of a later Congress are expressed in a duly enacted statute, then the views embodied in that statute must be interpreted and applied. Occasionally a later enactment declares congressional intent about interpretation of an earlier enactment rather than directly amending or clarifying the earlier law. Such action can be given prospective effect because, “however inartistic, it ... stands on its own feet as a valid enactment.”332 “Subsequent legislation declaring the intent of an earlier statute is entitled to great weight in statutory construction.”333

332 F. REED DICKERSON, THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF STATUTES 179 (1975).

333 Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367, 380-81 (1969). By contrast, a “mere statement in a conference report ... as to what the Committee believes an earlier statute meant is obviously less weighty” because Congress has not “proceeded formally through the legislative process.” South Carolina v. Regan, 465 U.S. 367, 379 n.17 (1984)."

I guess we can debate whether or not a yet undecided case on a not yet interpreted law is prospective or not. But, the court doesn't even need to go that far; the court can simply rule without explaining, or it could rule by adopting MLB's interpretation without even referencing the new amendment. 

The key word in the statement "Such action can be given prospective effect," is prospectiveRed Lion found that the Federal Communications Commission's expressed interpretation carried great in case concerning the issuance of licenses after  that interpretation was issued.

But here, there are no merit rulings so the underlying law didn't change; it was merely "clarified" before the court ruled.  If there had been rulings on the merits - by this court or any other - a new law would change the result. But here, there is no result to be changed, so the rulings are prospective based on the law (but, retrospective on the facts).

This isn't a case of the court ruling a contract unenforceable retroactively; it's simply applying an ambigious law to the facts in a way which is in harmony with the now amended law - in which the new law specifically makes clear the new congressional intent (whether applied retroactively or not).

New laws do impact cases - statue of limitations changes make former non-actionable behavior actionable for example. But it's an area in which I lack true depth of knowledge and, therefore, will not be a hill I die on!

PS. And all this skirts the issue of what if the new law specifically states it's meant to apply retroactively?

Goosegg posted:

But here, there are no merit rulings so the underlying law didn't change; it was merely "clarified" before the court ruled.  If there had been rulings on the merits - by this court or any other - a new law would change the result. But here, there is no result to be changed, so the rulings are prospective based on the law (but, retrospective on the facts).

This isn't a case of the court ruling a contract unenforceable retroactively; it's simply applying an ambigious law to the facts in a way which is in harmony with the now amended law - in which the new law specifically makes clear the new congressional intent (whether applied retroactively or not).

New laws do impact cases - statue of limitations changes make former non-actionable behavior actionable for example. But it's an area in which I lack true depth of knowledge and, therefore, will not be a hill I die on!

There is some merit to the notion that when a court looks at the entire legislative history of an act, they naturally compare the current clarification with past application and, if it matches closely, they will implicitly give it weight. So, yeah, any legislation like that would likely affect the current cases.

Don't you guys need some type of disclaimer about the quality of services provided is no greater is no greater than the services provided by others?

I've got to ask again - assuming an individual is deemed a "seasonal employee" or "artist", what, if any, labor requirements must be made relating to wages?  Does this line up with the idea of someone being an unpaid intern (a practice that many companies have abandoned)?

SultanofSwat posted:

"allowing its clubs to pay players as little as $1,100 a month"

Boohoo. Remind me again how much college players make for doing the same job.

There are some colleges out there that pay $6,000 cash plus food/lodging (not all, but some) not counting the extra check for any time after the school year ends.  These guys end up taking a hefty pay cut when they leave school and sign.

If a player is deemed to be a seasonal employee - similar to teenage camp counselors or summer carnival workers (which were the reasons for the exemptions in the first place) - working less then six months, there is no federal minimum wage.

Players report in late February and play through Labor Day. Then for some there are the Instructional Leagues, Arizona Fall League, and mini-camps; as well as year round drug testing and year round contract requirements which dictate behavior (must remain in first class condition) and prohibit certain behavior (skiing, rock climbing, etc.).

If a player only plays ST and the season, it's more then six months. So, except for the very first draft year, the minimum a player plays exceeds the statutory exception of seasonal. That's why MLB insists that ST doesn't count - and pays about $25 per day, plus two hots and a cot for it. 

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- Work in nature and enjoy all the elements that exist outdoors

- Learn the art of hand digging ditches to include equipment maintenance and form (sharp shovel strong back)

- In addition to free training in this exciting field, you will receive $10/day and all the bark you can eat

- Work during the summer months only but you will be expected to train during the "off season" with some opportunity for winter digging on your dime.

- If you desire a second year, you will be invited to a spring ditch digging event where you will compete with other returning ditch diggers (no cost for this exciting opportunity - discounted accommodations available and some free bark)

- If injured, we will work to stop all bleeding and drop you off at the nearest hospital.  You are welcomed to heal thy self and return for the spring dig.

We welcome you to sign up for this exciting opportunity and enhance your skills in this exciting industry.  You will be one of a very few hand ditch diggers and if you can convince someone to pay you, you should do OK.  Otherwise you can always read the instructions for the ditchwitch and get a real job paying 5x this opportunity simply walking behind this wonderful machine.  

2017LHPscrewball posted:

Don't you guys need some type of disclaimer about the quality of services provided is no greater is no greater than the services provided by others?

I've got to ask again - assuming an individual is deemed a "seasonal employee" or "artist", what, if any, labor requirements must be made relating to wages?  Does this line up with the idea of someone being an unpaid intern (a practice that many companies have abandoned)?

The legal guidelines for an unpaid intern are pretty strict. The internship must be an extension of an already paid job - any performance must be a compliment to the work of a paid employee. You can't take on an intern to do a job that you would otherwise have to hire an employee to do. The test is that if the intern weren't around and you'd have to actually pay someone to do what the intern is doing then it's not an internship. This is the legality of it. However, in the real world, it doesn't really work that way. I spent 9 months after law school working as an "unpaid intern" 40+/hrs a week as a law clerk just to be in place when funding came through for the position to be paid. My work definitely didn't legal fit into the definition of "intern."

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