Thursday, July 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ex-minor leaguers sue MLB over low salaries

Aaron Senne

FILE - In this June 3, 2007, file photo, Missouri's Aaron Senne rounds second base after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of an NCAA Regional baseball game against Louisville in Columbia , Mo. Senne and former minor-league players in each of the 30 big-league organizations are suing Major League Baseball, alleging violations of federal wage and overtime laws in a case some legal observers suggest has significant merit. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)

By
From page B8 | July 11, 2014 |

ST. LOUIS — Like many young baseball players, Aaron Senne dreamed of fame and fortune when he signed his first contract as a Miami Marlins’ draft choice after a record-breaking college career at Missouri.

Reality as a low-level minor leaguer was far different: vending machine dinners, bug-infested apartments and a paltry salary with an equivalent hourly wage less than what fast-food workers make.

Senne and former minor league players in each of the 30 big league organizations are suing Major League Baseball, alleging violations of federal wage and overtime laws in a case some legal observers suggest has significant merit. They are seeking class-action status on behalf of the estimated 6,000 ballplayers who toil each summer in outposts stretching from Bluefield, Virginia, to Bakersfield, California, as well as an unspecified amount of back pay.

“You come from high school or college where you’re not making anything and you just think, ‘I’m getting paid to play baseball. I’ll chase my dream,’” said Senne, who retired last year after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2011, one year after the Marlins paid him a $25,000 signing bonus as a 10th round pick. “You get that first paycheck and you do a double take. It’s an eye opener.”

In Senne’s case, that first check from the Jamestown (N.Y.) Jammers, a short-season Class A affiliate, was for $1,100 a month and $25 a day in meal money. At his peak, he earned $7,000 in 2012, but like all minor leaguers, wasn’t paid salary during spring training or for his offseason conditioning work.

Federal antitrust exemptions have largely protected pro baseball from comparable legal challenges. But in this case, the 32 plaintiffs recruited by attorney Garrett Broshuis — another former minor leaguer from Mizzou who went to law school after six seasons in the San Francisco Giants’ organization — allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a 1938 law that stipulates a minimum wage for workers and requires overtime for most employees who work more than 40 hours weekly.

The suit was filed earlier this year in federal court in San Francisco, though Major League Baseball wants to move the suit to Florida, where most of its teams spend spring training and courts are considered more employer-friendly.

“Yes, these guys are chasing a dream,” said Broshuis, acknowledging that short-term sacrifices can become distant memories should a big league contract be attained, which carries the promise of a $500,000 minimum salary while on the 25-man major league roster or disabled list. “But it’s also a job. And it’s a job they put a lot of hours in.”

Attorneys representing Major League Baseball in the California case did not respond to interview requests, and a spokesman in the league’s New York office declined comment. In a 78-page response to the suit, the league and Commissioner Bud Selig outlined 30 objections, including an exemption under the federal wage law for “seasonal, amusement or recreational” workers and a contractual requirement that workplace disputes must first go to arbitration before courts intervene.

University of New Hampshire law professor Michael McCann, director of the school’s Sports and Entertainment Law Institute, notes that most minor league salaries fall far below the federal poverty level of $11,670 for a single person and $23,850 for a family of four. Nor do minor leaguers have the power of a union to advocate on their behalf.

“Maybe for a 19- or 20-year-old, that’s all right,” McCann said of the typical minor-league contract. “For a guy who’s 28 years old with a family, I don’t see how there’s enough money to pay the bills.”

He said the lawsuit makes a “credible argument,” but noted that MLB has yet to offer a detailed response.

Broshuis attributed the disconnect between the idealized version of paying one’s dues in the minors and his actual experience as his primary motivation for pursuing a legal career. Drafted by the Giants in 2004 and out of baseball five years later after a few stints in Triple-A, he was valedictorian of his law school class at Saint Louis University.

“Very early in my career, I realized that something just didn’t seem quite right,” he said. Compared to college, “it almost seemed like a step down in working conditions. It seemed backward.”

Senne was one of three original plaintiffs in a case that is back in court later this week. He said the suit is a long-overdue challenge to a management mindset that embraced financial sacrifice as a necessary rite of passage.

For players who voiced their concerns, the response from coaches and managers was uniform, he said.

“They would say, ‘If you don’t like it, play better,’” Senne said. “‘Or go get a 9-to-5 job.’”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Cities dealing with state drought rules

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Muralist helps locals ready for some painted wall history

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

It’s ‘camping for 30′ at the Solano fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rejection makes us each stronger

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
Highway 12 crash sends 2 to hospital

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 10 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Police release name of Vallejo homicide victim

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4, 8 Comments | Gallery

Mall to host Ultimate Army Throw Down

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Police investigate Fairfield shooting

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola as 2 isolated

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Obama takes tougher line against Gaza casualties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
AP Analysis: Amid war, endgames in Gaza emerge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ex-IRS official called conservatives ‘crazies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Dissent quieted with most Israelis behind Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

Crews work to keep Yosemite fire from sequoias

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Sanctions will damage Russia if not lifted quickly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Clashes prevent experts from reaching bodies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 9 Comments

Congress cooperates – and fights – as recess nears

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Powell maybe not told early about CIA techniques

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: July 31, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
What happened to the US?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

Am I blaming victims?

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

 
 
Cruz gets border crisis wrong

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

.

Living

Today in History for July 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

I want to change my daughters last name to my maiden name

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for July 31, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Commentary: ‘Orphan Black,’ Emmy snubs and questions of identity

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Allison Williams headed skyward as NBC’s Peter Pan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Contract dispute delays ‘Big Bang’ production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Lloyd’s film watching impresses 49ers teammates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
SF benefits from Pirates’ blunder, ends skid at 6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Complete game shutout lifts Expos to State Tournament win

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hammel fails again for Athletics in loss to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Ray Guy’s long wait for Hall of Fame comes to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders owner confirms talks with San Antonio

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanford star Ty Montgomery rehabbing shoulder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Greg Ives to crew chief Earnhardt in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Indians trade pitcher Masterson to Cardinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Riley speaks out, insists Heat will be competitive

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Nadal out of 2 tournaments because of right wrist

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene’s No. 75

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Fairfield-Suisun 6U Bobby Sox win titles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Usain Bolt in controversy at Commonwealth Games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US judge slaps $1.3B fine on Bank of America

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Overhaul approved for troubled California refinery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Judge says Crystal CEO should testify in lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Louise Scholten

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Ronald Witt Escue Sr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Scott Allen Shaver

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9