Quebec — A small article of the law hidden in the recent budget of $ 1.3 billion in the u.s. Congress will almost certainly have a negative effect on the finances… of the Eagles of Trois-Rivières.
To allow the baseball teams affiliated to “survive” by continuing to under-pay their players, the Save America’s Pastime Act, could, ironically, kill several teams in independent baseball. “We are in regular contact with our lawyers and other independent circuits. We didn’t really see it coming. It will likely be to adapt our salary structure,” says the founder and commissioner of the League, Can-Am, Miles Wolff.
In the offices of multiple leagues of baseball beyond north america, it is a small pandemonium, which began since the 23rd of march. The next day, their teams will probably have to raise the salary of a part of the players significantly.
All of this because of a legal change passed by stealth, page 1967 of a document of over 2000 pages, in the recent us budget. A budget passed by Congress and ratified by Donald Trump in just a few days.
To understand how this legal provisions is intended to “save” baseball, “the pastime of America,” would rather kill multiple independent teams, it is necessary to begin with the genesis of the Save America’s Pastime Act.
Trouble legal the MLB
Since 2015, the major League baseball (MLB), are the target of a lawsuit led by a group of players of the minor leagues holding their illegal working conditions. This is Garrett Broshuis, a former pitcher of the subsidiaries of the San Francisco Giants became a lawyer, which is leading the charge. The players of the minor work 55 to 60 hours a week, argues the prosecution. Their minimum wage of $ 1,100 per month, which has not increased for over a decade, and is lower than the minimum wage is us 7.25 $per hour.
To get out of this settled legal that could prove to be quite costly, the MLB has invested more than $ 1 million in lobbying in the u.s. Congress, the past two years. The league has been rewarded in the end of march, by the Save America’s Pastime Act : a statutory exception granted to teams of professional baseball in the us.
According to the new law, the players in pro baseball are to be paid, during the regular season, “at a rate that is not less than” the equivalent of one work week of 40 hours at minimum wage “regardless of the number of hours that the employee devotes to activities related to baseball.”
Concretely, the minor league teams need to slightly raise the minimum wage of their player 1100 $ 1160 $ per month, but the MLB no longer has to worry about legal issues relating to the number of hours worked. Legally, in professional baseball, the extra time no longer exists.
Except that, as the act affects the professional baseball as a whole, the baseball leagues independent are not free. And this is where the shoe pinches, because the minimum wage is largely under-1160 US $in these leagues where the financial health of teams is often fragile.
About a month of the start of the season in the League, Can-Am, there are still “grey areas and question marks” about the application of the Save America’s Pastime Act, writes Wolff. Translation : the independent leagues are working together and with their lawyers to find a way to circumvent the law.
But what happens if they don’t get there? “It will not have a big effect on our league than some of the other smaller. The majority of our players are already more than 1160 $ per month,” says Wolff. “The recruits, in particular, will need to be paid more, but this is nothing to put us in bankruptcy”.
In theory, the law does not affect the three american teams of the Can-Am, Rockland, New Jersey and Sussex County. In practice, however, all the world must play by the same rules, points out Wolff. If the american teams must pay their players a minimum of 1160 $ per month, a regulation will require that the three canadian teams to do the same. The minimum wage currently is $ 800 per month.
Ceiling : Increase required
The commissioner has not yet issued guidance to the different teams in the League Can-Am. He admits, however, that at least a reversal of situation, the wage ceiling of $ 104,000 will need to be increased. Most importantly, the teams, the alignment is of 22 players have already signed most of their players for the season starting in a month.
The conclusion is not encouraging : an increase of sudden expenses for the Capitals, the Eagles of Trois-Rivières and the Champions of Ottawa, but without any increase in income. The independent baseball is a collateral victims of an act requested by the MLB for a reason quite different, ” admits Wolff.
But he assures that he need not worry unduly. “I don’t think that there are reasons to worry for the survival of the four major independent leagues, the Can-Am, Frontier, American Association, and the League’s Atlantic.”