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Why The Save America’s Pastime Act Will Hurt Foreign Minor Leaguers

The “Save America’s Pastime Act” was first introduced as a bill in 2016, but did not generate the support necessary to become law. That’s because the bill, which would unethically cause minor league baseball players to lose their minimum wage rights as part of Congress’ upcoming vote on a $1.3 trillion spending package, is a financial death sentence for most of MLBs minor league players. 

#saveMiLB on Twitter

Save Americas pastime bill introduced into Congress in June… Bill will do complete opposite of its name. #saveMilb https://t.co/v4A9yF4Exs

If the bill ultimately passes, minor league clubs will be able to pay their players as little as $1,100 a month, which works out to $275 a week. By comparison, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour. Over a 40-hour work week, that equals $1,160 per month. 

As part of a provision within the 2,232 page $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Trump needs to sign before Friday to keep the government open, the Minor Leagues would be exempted from a class of workers under federal labor law for minimum and overtime pay. 

Mike DeBonis on Twitter

Here’s the baseball bit: Teams would have to pay weekly floor of min wage x 40. No overtime. And only during the season.

This isnt a bill that would affect any one race of American player more than the other. It’s all bad for every minor league player involved. 

Minor League baller Kyle Johnson tries to support his family on a $12,000 yearly salary as he pursues his baseball dream. He revealed to usatoday.com in late January of 2017  that he’s “among four active minor league players attempting to join a lawsuit against Major League Baseball and its teams, and hes the first active player involved in the case to speak about it publicly. Spearheaded by attorney and former minor leaguer Garrett Broshuis and first filed in February of 2014, the suit currently includes 41 named plaintiffs and is awaiting a second ruling on class-action certification before it can head toward a trial.

It seeks to apply the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act i.e. minimum wage to minor league players, who earn as little as $1100 a month at the rookie level, only get paid during the season, and do not receive overtime pay.”

The bill does, however, have potentially damaging ramifications for foreign players who make up roughly 28 percent of MLB rosters and are flooded throughout baseball’s minor leagues. They are the true victims, and proof that the unscrupulous pay-for-play relationship between government and lobbyists is still thriving under our current administration. 

These players — most specifically the Hispanic athletes — come to America to pursue a dream. They work on a craft their entire lives and then leave one impoverished situation for a tough, minimum wage life playing baseball in the U.S. Only a small percentage of the foreign players that are signed to minor league deals get huge signing bonuses that can create some type of nest egg for their family in America. The rest play minor league ball as long as they can and then when the dream is over have to return home or get some kind of regular work. 

Players work way more than 40 hours week, they play about six games, plus practices. The total labor comes in at more like 60-70 hours. 

As the country is in turmoil over issues such as gun control, homelessness, an opioid epidemic, police brutality and the ongoing systematic oppression of people of color, Congress is trying to sneak the exploitation of MLB minor league players into the massive spending bill. 

Chris Stiles on Twitter

Doesn’t congress have better things to do than further trample the already way-too-low salaries of minor league baseball players? https://t.co/wfVM9EBjw6

Its crazy. In 2018, the US government is still trying to take from people and benefit the greedy, deep pockets of big business. MLBs parent clubs are responsible for minor-league wages, not the MiLB teams themselves, and the league has previously stated that they do not comply with federal labor standards by claiming that players are only seasonal apprentices, rather than regular full-time employees. 

With this bill, MLB wouldnt have to rely on that bogus excuse any longer and it would stifle several lawsuits by minor league players seeking fair wages through claims that their salaries dont afford them living wages. 

Major League Baseball has reportedly “paid lobbyists hundreds of thousands of dollars to write a specific exemption into the law,” according to the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, that would make flipping burgers at White Castle a more lucrative job than trying to pursue a career in pro baseball. 

Rhett Feser on Twitter

Save Americas Pastime Act” because we should reward burger flippers, but cap wages for people that work their entire lives for something.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Major League Baseball spent $1,320,000 in lobbying in both 2016 and 2017, a nearly $1 million increase from 2015 when MLBs lobbying effort totaled just $330,000. 

The Post sources indicated that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a Washington Nationals fan, is among those pushing the provision and that leaders of both parties have been willing to entertain the measure that is now in the omnibus bill.

Across 19 affiliated minor leagues, there are 244 minor league clubs. During the season, there will be between 7,500 and 8,000 affiliated players between MLB and MiLB at a given time. Of those, 1,200 would be on the Major League 40-man rosters, and usually in the range of 6,500 Minor Leaguers across those 244 clubs when games are being played. 

4While the MLB players in 2017 made a record average of $4 million, the roughly 80 percent of players in the minor leagues are working for slave wages. Everything is different at that level, from the transportation to the meals to the facilities and resources. 

#saveMiLB on Twitter

This shows how hard MiLB life already is. It won’t get any better with save Americas pastime act. #saveMiLB https://t.co/056qkEKASE

The fact that the bill is tied into a spending bill that needs to pass in order for the federal government to avoid another shutdown is also dirty politics by MLB and Congress. It only benefits the rich owners and once again puts the financial burden on a group of people that are already struggling to maintain a living wage. 

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