Major League Baseball has agreed to pay $ 185 million to settle a class action filed by thousands of current and former minor league players over past wage claims.
The agreement filed with the US District Court in the Northern District of California on Friday is the latest step in the general reorganization of minor league baseball, including the hijacking and shrinking of the minor league system by 30 major league clubs. Reorganization of teams and leagues. Now MLB needs to arrive at the new system to pay the minor leaguers.
The class includes about 23,000 players, and according to the language of the settlement, the average payment is about $ 5,000 to $ 5,500 per player. It’s not a big deal for individual players, but the real importance of the agreement may be how minor league players will be compensated in the future.
After years of heavy pressure, MLB has spent the past two seasons increasing salaries for minor league players, providing housing and medical care, eliminating clubhouse membership fees, and general conditions such as travel and dining. Has been working on the process of improving.
“Changes are in the air,” Garrett R. Brocheis, a former minor league pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, now a partner of Korain Tillery, and plaintiff’s legal counsel, said in an interview on Friday. “The situation is improving and this is the main reason. There is still more work to be done and there are people watching to see what they can do. This proposed solution is in the right direction. It’s a big step towards. “
Under the proposed agreement, this still requires judge approval, but MLB has all clubs in spring training, extended spring training, or championship seasons, including regular and playoffs.
In the past, players were not paid for time spent outside the championship season, including time spent working out during the off-season. MLB claims that players are similar to arts, music, and theater apprentices, and are eager to temporarily enter the major leagues, where apprentices are paid. According to MLB figures, the average time spent in minor leagues was about two and a half years, so it was not a regular employment option.
Regardless of the validity of the argument, it came across a cold one from an industry that is making billions of dollars.
Brocheis, who does not belong to the player’s class, spent six years in the minor league and vividly remembered the hardships of life in the minor league. He remembered seeing eight teammates from Latin America living in an unfurnished, three-bedroom apartment with only air mattresses.
“They are changing and it has been postponed for a long time,” Broshuis said. “We first filed this proceeding over eight years ago, but the issue wasn’t fully discussed and lasted too long. Now the team is paying for the housing, We are removing clubhouse membership fees, which was a big problem for players. “
According to the terms of the settlement, Broshuis, where the company would earn 30% of payments, or $ 55 million and an additional $ 5 million in commissions, would have some of those changes without the pressure brought by the proceedings. Said that it would have been carried out.
Currently, MLB is working on a new compensation system, but it does so unilaterally because minor league players are not represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association or other unions and have no negotiating units to negotiate. Reconciliation may help prevent a return to past inequality, but how the situation of minor league players progress can be very complex, especially for teams in many states. I have.
Hourly wage implementation can be complicated as players spend a lot of time in the stadium for games, training, travel and relaxation. Most players are working hard to prepare for their career in Major League Baseball and may oppose the hourly limit of time they can spend on their workouts.
A MLB spokesman said in a statement, “This is the second year of a major overhaul of the player development system 100 years ago and we have made great strides to improve the quality of life for minor league players.” Stated. “We are proud that minor league players are already enjoying great benefits.”
This includes a $ 450 million annual contract for first grade players, college tuition assistance, and meals.
With the shrinking minor leagues, fewer players are paying. The cost of the settlement is approximately $ 6.2 million per Major League Club.
“We are pleased to have reached the resolution, but we cannot comment on the details until the agreement is formally approved by the court,” the statement said.