Baseball players in minors to lose minimum wage protection

Indians manager Andy Barkett (left) chats with outfielder Austin Meadows during a game at Victory Field (WTTV April 9, 2017).

WASHINGTON – Minor league baseball players who make as little as $5,500 a season would be stripped of the protection of federal minimum wage laws under a provision in government spending legislation expected to be approved by Congress this week.

The “Save America’s Pastime Act” is included on page 1,967 of the law and appears to pre-empt a lawsuit filed four years ago in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by three players alleging Major League Baseball and its teams violate the Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a work week they estimated at 50-to-60 hours.

The provision in the legislation would exempt “any employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not spring training or the offseason) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage … for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.”

The House approved the spending bill Thursday and the legislation appears likely to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump.

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