Friday, February 27, 2015
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

Searchers find infant’s body

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
Children tackle history during Wax Museum project

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun Walmart to open March 25

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 14 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Pedestrians hit by cars in 2 separate incidents

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Legislative committee votes for earthquake relief bill

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Vacaville police clear homeless from area

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4, 5 Comments

 
NorthBay Healthcare Group expands lease

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
State to close part of I-80 to continue project

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Feb. 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Feb. 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Family celebrating one-month birthdays of identical triplets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
CEO has plan for crime prediction system

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Dog owner lawsuit alleges food made his pups sick

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
What happens, and not, in Homeland Security shutdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Pet shop owner found guilty of arson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Harris only Dem left after Villaraigosa exits campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Regulators eyeing tighter cybersecurity requirements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Technology might have prevented deaths in train crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Speaker has plan to help fund affordable housing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Massive I-95 pileup leaves 17 injured in snowy Maine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Journalists arrested in Paris for drone flights

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Afghanistan avalanche destroys homes, kills 124

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Polanski appears in court to face extradition

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hungarian village available for rent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
.

Opinion

 
Chinese economy may be stalling – and that’s OK

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

 
Time to put down the joystick

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

Editorial Cartoon: Feb. 26, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Living

Today in History: Feb. 26, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Feb. 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Feb. 26, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

Gucci designer makes debut during Milan Fashion Week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
People: Lindsay Lohan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Kings grind out 102-90 win over Grizzlies in Sacramento

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Bay Area’s Semien in the mix for A’s shortstop job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Clark says players against radical speed-up changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McIlroy looking to keep momentum to the Masters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
IOC head quizzed about water shortages in Rio, golf course

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Felipe Mata Mislang

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Thomas Browning

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9