As baseball’s one-percent gather in Minneapolis Tuesday for the 85th All-Star Game, the sport’s working poor are driving forward with a novel, quite possibly historic lawsuit in San Francisco.
The class action suit, brought on behalf of minor leaguers for all 30 Major League teams, alleges violations of federal law requiring fair wages and overtime. Filed in February, and twice expanded ahead of a September hearing, Senne vs. MLB portrays minor league baseball players as the game’s exploited underclass. They toil year-round with no overtime, unpaid extra assignments, and no right to switch teams or renegotiate, the lawsuit alleges. In exchange, they get a maximum starting salary of $5,500—a sum far below minimum wage.
“No one is saying that minor leaguers should be getting rich,” says Garrett Broshuis, a minor league baseball player turned attorney who helped build the case. “But if McDonald’s and Wal-Mart can pay a minimum wage, then Major League Baseball can too.”
It’s a high-toned complaint that presents the plaintiffs—those deemed “powerless” and “preyed upon” by “the cartel known as Major League Baseball”—as entitled to a fairer shake, especially as the game’s global revenue soars toward $9 billion.
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