Three US Senators Question MLB’s Compliance with Collective Bargaining Agreement
Florida Law Raises Concerns Over Minor League Players’ Wages
Three United States senators have raised concerns over a new Florida law that they believe may undermine Major League Baseball’s (MLB) collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with minor league players. The senators, Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), sent a letter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday, questioning the league’s lobbying efforts for a broad exemption to the state’s minimum wage laws while negotiating the historic CBA.
The letter, obtained by ESPN, highlights the senators’ worries that the new Florida law could jeopardize the progress made in increasing minor league players’ wages to a living wage. In June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed S.B. 892 into law, exempting minor league players from minimum wage and maximum hour laws.
MLB had previously attempted to pass laws that would exclude minor league players from federal minimum wage requirements. Although these efforts failed, the “Save America’s Pastime Act” was included in a 2018 spending bill. This act was introduced while MLB was facing a class-action lawsuit from players alleging violations of wage-and-hour laws. MLB settled the case in July 2022, paying $185 million.
The timing of the Florida law’s introduction is also a point of concern. The bill was introduced in mid-February, five months after MLB voluntarily recognized the new minor league unit of the MLB Players Association and during ongoing discussions between the league and the union regarding the CBA framework. However, a league spokesman has stated that the Florida law will not impact current players.
Despite the passage of the Florida law, sources reveal that players on numerous teams across the state continued to receive salaries in accordance with the minimums outlined in the CBA throughout the 2023 season. These new minor league salaries, which more than doubled the wages of players, were set at $35,800 for Triple-A players, $30,250 for Double-A players, $27,300 for High-A players, $26,200 for Low-A players, and $19,800 for players in the Florida and Arizona Complex Leagues.
Durbin, who has previously questioned the validity of MLB’s antitrust exemption, has emerged as a vocal advocate for minor league players. However, he had not publicly addressed S.B. 892 until now. The senators’ letter also highlights that MLB and the MLB Players Association had supported narrower exemptions to wage-and-hour laws in Arizona, California, New York, North Carolina, and Washington.
In their letter, the senators inquire whether MLB intends to send a similar letter to Florida and whether the league would support federal legislation for a more limited exemption. The senators express concern that MLB’s efforts to pass a broad exemption in Florida may undermine the agreement reached with the MLBPA and jeopardize the progress made in ensuring minor league players earn a living wage.