Nonprofit says Minor League Baseball players earning under federal minimum wage
A nonprofit organization released a report on Friday showing Minor League Baseball players are largely unsatisfied with workplace conditions and pay, with 72 percent of respondents in a survey saying their needs were not met by current wages, which the organization contends is under the federal minimum wage.
More Than Baseball interviewed more than 800 players in the minor leagues over a three-year investigation into workplace conditions. About 83 percent of respondents said a salary bump was the biggest change they wanted the league to make, while more than half said they had a second job in the offseason to make ends meet.
Separately, More Than Baseball launched a petition to advocate for a minimum salary of $35,000 a year for Minor League Baseball players, saying the average player makes less than $10,000 a year and less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Meanwhile, players sign nonnegotiable, seven-year contracts that allow for the use of their image and likeness, More Than Baseball said.
“As one player put it, he wishes teams would ‘treat us like human beings, not just assets to frugal owners,'” said Simon Rosenblum-Larson, the organization’s program director, in an email. “The most significant takeaway from this report is the desperate need for improved pay in the minor leagues.”
In a statement to The Hill, Major League Baseball (MLB), which oversees the minor leagues via its club teams, said since 2021 it has increased salaries for minor league players up to 72 percent and “improved facilities, provided more amenities and better clubhouse conditions, removed all clubhouse dues, and reduced in-season travel.”
“The 30 Clubs went into the first season of the modernized player development system in 2021 focused on addressing longstanding issues that have impacted Minor League players for decades,” the organization said in a statement. “The Clubs are confident that these investments will help ensure that Minor League players have every opportunity to achieve their dreams of becoming Major Leaguers.”
The news follows a lockout in Major League Baseball that only ended in March after professional players re-negotiated contracts with the league. Those players negotiated contracts raising minimum salaries to $780,000 a year.
Only 10 percent of Minor League Baseball players will ever make it to the MLB, according to More Than Baseball’s recent report. The minor league encompasses 209 teams spread across 19 leagues in 44 states and four provinces.
League players also complain about multiple workplace conditions.
In More Than Baseball’s survey, the lack of healthy nutritional food and the lack of offseason support are also major concerns. And while the league passed a recent policy that affords them housing, players say they are stuffed into sharing a bedroom with other players.
In its statement, MLB said that for the 2022 season, the league has housed more than 90 percent of minor league players with furnished housing accommodations at each Major League Club’s expense.
Last month, a California state senator introduced a bill that would guarantee higher pay and better working conditions for minor league players.
A federal judge last month also ruled in favor of minor league players who had sued on violations of federal minimum wage laws in California, Arizona and Florida.
This story was updated at 4:15 p.m.