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Major League Baseball does not believe minor league players should be paid during spring training.
In a federal court appearance on Friday, a league attorney said minor league players should be considered interns during spring training and as such should not be paid , according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
Elise Bloom of Proskauer Rose said:
“It is the players who benefit most from the training opportunities offered to them than the clubs, who in fact only bear the cost of providing this training. During practice season, the players are not employees and would not be subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act or any state minimum wage law.
Bloom’s comments come as California Northern District Judge Joseph Spero heard arguments Friday for summary judgment in the Senne v. MLB case. The summary judgment process decides which issues will be heard at trial.
The case of Senne v. MLB began in 2014 when Aaron Senne and 44 other minor league players sued the league and its teams, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which the U.S. Department of Labor says “sets minimum wage, hours additional wages, record keeping and youth employment standards affecting private sector and federal, state and local government employees.”
The purpose of the lawsuit is to get MLB to reimburse the wages that the former underage players claim are owed to them. These players feel they are owed money in part because MLB does not pay minor leaguers for spring training games, instructional leagues or playoffs.
Due to lack of pay, minor leaguers are often forced to find second or third jobs to support themselves and their families. The league raised MiLB salaries for 2021, but it’s still not enough. Here’s what the weekly wages look like for minor leaguers at all levels:
- Rookie and Short Season-A: $400 (down from $290 in 2020)
- High-A and Low-A: $500 (down from $290 in 2020)
- Double A: $600 (compared to $350 in 2020)
- Triple A: $700 (down from $502 in 2020)
Seine v. MLB will begin a jury trial on June 1. A decision in favor of minor league players could be life changing.