Minor Leaguers’ Suit Settled

Y’all remember that there was a class action suit against MLB by former minor leaguers? Well, it was supposed to go to trial in California starting today, but won’t because the players and MLB have agreed in principle on a settlement. The terms have not be released to the public, and may remain confidential, but ESPN is citing an anonymous source that talks were in the $200M range. That sounds like lottery money, but split among all minor leaguers over the past 12 years or so…nobody’s getting rich here. (The players involved date back to around 2009/10, and the original suit was filed in 2014.) Also remember MLB rakes in $10G/year, so (if the number is right) we’re talking about 2% of one year’s gross.

As a reminder, the basis of the suit was that players have to train, attend functions, etc year round and yet are only paid during the season. Judge Speedo had already ruled that minor leaguers are not students and that treating them like unpaid interns is not lawful. He further stated spring training time is compensable time under the minimum wage laws in both Arizona and Florida, plus travel time is also compensable under the laws of Arizona, Florida, and California. It had become pretty clear even to a layperson like me that MLB faced a steep uphill battle if they insisted on going to trial.

I’ve also read in recent weeks that MLB is considering instituting minor league pay during spring training. I expect this will now be more than consideration for the future…and that it will be playing with fire if they do not do so. Adding that to the pay raises already implemented plus the adequate housing for minor leaguers mandate from MLB, it looks like the players will at least not have to live like paupers 8 months of the year.

This is not to laud MLB, though. For them, no expense is too small to not mitigate; there is no penny not worth pinching. Do you think it’s a coincidence that all this is happening in roughly the same time frame that the affiliated minor leagues have been drawn down to 4 teams per big league club? Oh, each player will cost more money you say? Well then, let’s have fewer players!

Still, good for the players going forward that they will be compensated a bit more fairly and good that some level of justice will be served at least to the players of the relatively recent past.

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