Minor leaguers called Major League Baseball a “cartel” in class action lawsuit accusing MBL of paying many of them less than $7,500 a year, in violation of federal wage law.
Players Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle sued MLB, Commissioner Bud Selig and three teams, the San Francisco Giants, Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals on Friday in federal court in San Francisco.
The class action seeks to represent minor league players as a collective class and include classes that play in Florida, North Carolina, New York, Arizona and California.
They argue that while major league players, represented by a union, are paid a minimum of $500,000 a season, minor leaguers have no union yet make up the overwhelming majority of ball players.
Through collective power of team owners and the league, “MBL has suppressed minor leaguers’ wages in violation of federal and state law. Most minor leaguers earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for the entire year despite routinely working over 50 hours per week (and soometimes 70 hours per week) during the roughly five-month championship season. They receive no overtime pay, and instead routinely receive less than minimum wage during the championship season,” the lawsuit states.
The suit states they are not paid salaries during spring training, even thought minor leaguers areoften required to work 50 hours a week, nor do they pay for winter training periods.
MBL is a “booming business,” according to the lawsuit, with $7.5 billion in revenue for 30 teams in 2012, a 257 percent increase over 1995. With new television contracts that revenue is expected to rise to $9 billion in 2014.
Yet MBL and its franchises pay most players, the minor leaguers, wages that fall below minimum wage and fail to pay overtime, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit “seeks to recoup the damages sustained by minor leaguers as a result of MLB’s illegal wage and labor practices.”
Case: Senne v. Office of the Commissioner, No. 14-608JCS