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Minor League Baseball Players Unpaid For 6 Months of Work

Minor League baseball players are expected to train 6 months of the year to prepare for the season, but they aren't paid for any of it.

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Video produced and edited by Jordan Zakarin and Meg Herschlein

Billionaire baseball owners are exploiting Minor League players with poverty wages and six months of unpaid labor. Players in baseball’s farm system make between $6,000-15,000 per season and are not paid for attending mandatory Spring Training or off season workouts. Players tell us they take second jobs driving for Uber and DoorDash or working at Walmart just to make ends meet. Minor leaguers are demanding fair pay and backpay from billionaire owners for Spring Training.

Video transcript below:

Cam Coursey, infielder Hillsboro Hops:
Last baseball season, from May to late September, I made $9,800.

Luke Barker, pitcher Nashville Sounds:
Off-season, you’re on your own. Part-time seasonal intern.

Billionaire baseball owners are exploiting minor league players with poverty wages

and 6 months of unpaid labor

Luke:
Anybody that becomes a minor league baseball player signs the Uniform Player Contract and they’re all 7 years. They decide where you go, they decide what level you’re at to start any given year, and they have pretty much full control. The pay is non-negotiable. Everybody thinks about it as you get paid per month and you get 6 months if you’re in a full-season team. You’re making anywhere from $6,000 for a season to $15,000 for a season if you’re in AAA.

MiLB players are not paid for the 2 months of spring training they are contractually required to attend

Luke:
Minor League camp report is usually first week of March.

Cam:
You are there, you know, all day every day. You don’t have opportunities to go do anything else to make money.

Luke:
It’s pretty much full work day for two months where you’re not getting paid.

Cam:
I think spring training is more difficult than the season, you know, strenuous on your body and just the workload is more. I believe minor leaguers are more entitled to get paid during spring training than even in the regular season just because of the workload, to be honest. You’re there 10, 12, 13, 15 hours a day, maybe. Players are forced to pick up additional jobs in between trainings to make ends meet during the off-season

Cam:
I think a lot of people overlook that minor league baseball players aren’t students. We’re not in school. We have adult expenses, whether that be rent, car, insurance, whatever else. A lot of players, myself included, have children. I have a 3-year-old daughter so that isn’t free either. So $9,000 a year, that’s kind of tough to support yourself. You have professional athletes, you know, the top 1% of baseball players in the world that are driving Uber, and delivering food, and working at Walmart overnight when the off-season, you’re supposed to be training to better yourself for the next season.

Luke:
I’ve been a strength conditioning coach in the off-season, I’ve done lessons, I’ve gotten into wood-working and built chairs and sold them on Facebook.

Cam:
I’ve given lessons, I coach youth teams back home and I’ve delivered food, like UberEats, Door Dash, Postmates, things like that, just to make a couple dollars here and there and get ready to go spend a month where I don’t have any income at all. The problem with getting a job is a lot of places won’t hire you because you’re only home for 4 or 5 months out of the year and you have to be straight up in the interview process and say hey, I’m not gonna be here.

Up until fall of 2021, MiLB teams were not required to provide housing for players

A new housing policy was created as a result of mounting pressure from players and advocacy groups

Cam:
So my housing last year, I was living in a townhome garage, so I was on the bottom level living in a garage. It was like 85 square feet, no heat, no air. Fast forward to this year, the Diamondbacks did an outstanding job. They put all of us up in apartments, furnished, wifi, own bedrooms, TV, anything you could need.

Luke:
It’s important for everyone to realize it’s up to each team. They can make it better for their guys if they wanted to, and teams that are doing it should be commended, and the teams that are continuing not to do it, with the writing on the wall, they should be called out.

Cam:
I think this is the first time that minor leaguers have actually gotten together and started to create a voice for ourself and I think it’s huge.

Luke:
I would like to see guys make a livable salary and I’d like to see guys make that throughout the year. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the top 2% of professional baseball players to be able to be paid year round.

Cam:
The fact that players have to put the batting glove down because they don’t get paid enough is sick. Nobody thinks the minor leaguers are supposed to get paid millions of dollars in the minor leagues, that’s why we’re in the minor leagues, you know, we’re here to develop and get better and hopefully one day you’re good enough to play in the big leagues and that’s where you get paid like that.

Luke:
It’s a big money industry, you know? It’s there. And to have an ugly side of it where you have guys that can’t see their wives all year because they can’t afford to have them out, that just doesn’t add up.

The owners of 24 out of 30 MLB teams are either billionaires or multi-billion dollar corporations

Cam:
Just because the season is half the year doesn’t mean our job stops the other half, so getting compensated for us doing our job is I think what we want to see.

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