Minor league baseball players demand spring training pay
Last month, minor league baseball players received their first paycheck since October. The checks came nearly two months after the players reported for spring training, the mandatory but unpaid pre-season period.
Some players want that to change.
Last week, more than 1,000 minor league players petitioned Major League Baseball asking for compensation for their time at spring training.
“That’s pretty much a full day’s work for two months where you don’t get paid,” Luke Barker, a minor league pitcher in the Milwaukee Brewers system, said in a video published by More Perfect Union, a worker-focused media group.
The petition was organized by Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a non-profit advocacy group that has worked to bring attention to the financial hardship of underage players. The demand is perhaps the most widespread call for better salaries from minor league players, many of whom are reluctant to speak out for fear of jeopardizing their chance for promotion to the major leagues.
The effort comes just over a month after a federal judge ruled that MLB violated wage laws by classifying minor leaguers as seasonal apprentices rather than employees. The ruling, which set terms for a jury trial in a long-running class action lawsuit, found the minor league players were working out during spring training.
As MLB challenges the lawsuit, minor league players are urging the league to pay them for their work rather than wait for the outcome of the legal battle.
MLB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The league told ESPN it could not comment on “ongoing litigation,” but argued that minor league players are seasonal employees exempt from minimum wage laws.
In 2019, MLB pushed a bill that would have exempted minor leaguers from minimum wage laws in Arizona, which is home to many of the league’s spring training facilities. The invoice has not advanced.
Minor league supporters launched their own policy, with a bill in California that would limit how long players would remain under team control. Legislators elsewhere have noticedand U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, is leading a campaign at the federal level to remove MLB’s anti-trust exemption.