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The Giants pay $700K in back wages to clubhouse workers

May 7, 2013, 3:02 PM EDT

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Scroll past the story about the new male strip club in the Castro and you’ll find this item in the San Francisco Chronicle:

. . . the San Francisco Giants have agreed to pay $700,000 in back pay and penalties to 74 batboys, cooks, clubhouse attendants and other workers after a federal audit concluded the team’s salary practices were improper … The Giants paid them a flat “game rate” salary, although under state and federal law, they’re supposed to be paid by the hour. And the batboys were getting about $55 a game – no matter how many hours they worked.

Which, yes, is a violation. But given that players and coaches tip these guys out, often very handsomely, it’s not like they weren’t getting paid well. Rules are rules though. And with the wage system — which the article says the Giants went to in 2012 — I’m guessing they’re still getting tipped nicely.

  1. number42is1 - May 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Castro’s Aide: But presidente, America tried to kill you!
    Fidel Castro: Ah, they’re not so bad. They even named a street after me in San Francisco!
    [Aide #2 whispers something into his ear]
    Fidel Castro: It’s full of what?

  2. hansob - May 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    how do you even make that determination? It’s not like $55 a game is under minimum wage when it gets broken down by hour, even if they get there early. Now if they were Red Sox/Yankees games, then we’d have a problem.

    • jlovenotjlo - May 7, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      I believe minimum wage is 9.75 in SF. California has by far the strictest labor laws in the country, everything from 1.5x being paid after 8 hours and 2x after 12, to strict requirements on who can be defined as a salaried manager.

      There are advantages and disadvantages to working under these laws. While clubhouse attendants make a lot of their money in tips, I think that this may inconvenience them when they’re not collecting pay when the team goes on a road trip. It could result in some sick overtime during homestands, however. Time and a half over 8 plus time and a half wen you go over 40, that should be nice.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Absolutely. And this also lends itself to $12.50 packs of cigarettes, $7.00 for a gallon of milk, $6.50 for a gallon of gas and $25.00 for a case of beer.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Serious question: How does California handle the pay of wait staff?
        Is it still $8.00 per hour + tips? Or is it a decreased hourly rate because of the tips?

      • clydeserra - May 7, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        a gallon of milk in San Francisco is about $3.50

      • clydeserra - May 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        and gas in SF is around $3.90.

      • 18thstreet - May 7, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        And yet, people want to live there for some reason.

        I guess there’s more to life than gas taxes.

      • Roger Moore - May 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        @sltlouis1baseball, California has no minimum wage exemption for people who get tips, so the wages would be whatever the local minimum wage is (@jlovenotjlo says it’s $9.75/hour in San Francisco) plus their share of tips. Yeah, it makes things more expensive, but it means that people with full time jobs as waiters don’t need food stamps to make ends meet.

    • kevinbnyc - May 7, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      It’s because they’re in California. Their labor laws are the wackiest in the country.

      • APBA Guy - May 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        So wacky 125,000+ new companies were incorporated in 2011, while only 12 left the State.

      • kevinbnyc - May 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        I wasn’t saying they were bad, they’re just a lot different than most other states’ laws. I’d personally love to be an employee in CA.

      • 18thstreet - May 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        Yes, it’s totally wacky when Tim Lincecum is earning $22 million to have a law that says the batboy deserves $8 an hour.


      • billybawl - May 7, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        Which laws are so different than other states?

    • evanwins - May 7, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Do you think that they show up at 1st pitch and leave immediately following the last pitch? Like the $55 per game is just for that time they are playing? The cooks only so any work while the game’s being played? The clubhouse attendants don’t have any set up before the players even get there?

      According to the headline it was $700,000 they were determined to have owed these guys so it’s not like they were off by a few dollars.

  3. clydeserra - May 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    “The Giants say it’s not like the workers were getting stiffed.”

    Bullshit, that is exactly what was happening. The are entitled to a certain kind of pay and they did not receive it.

    • evanwins - May 7, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      As evidenced by the fact that it became an issue that went to court.

  4. evanwins - May 7, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    “But given that players and coaches tip these guys out, often very handsomely, it’s not like they weren’t getting paid well.”

    Right. So it’s fine that they were violating State and Federal Labor Laws?

    If this happened to any team that you didn’t like, your slant would be completely different. Mainly because you lack integrity.

    • jm91rs - May 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Not sure how it works in CA, but in most of this country your tips get factored in when calculating whether or not you’re making over minimum wage. So they were probably making over minimum, IF they reported tips to the IRS, which is doubtful.

      • kopy - May 7, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        California has the same minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees.

    • steve7921 - May 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      Obviously the auditors did not take into account the tips that were received. A waiter/waitress is only paid $3-$5 per hour because when the tips are taken into account, they are paid above minimum wage.

      Also with some of these jobs, a 10-12 hour work day is not uncommon.

      I would suspect that the IRS may be the next agency taking a look at these employees and their income.

      • jlovenotjlo - May 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        California does not have a tipped wage. Minimum wage is minimum wage across the board.

      • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 12:12 AM

        Tips have nothing to do with payroll requirements

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 7, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      Nice cherry picking. You did note that I said “but the law is the law.” I didn’t say they got what they deserved or were entitled to. I said that they were paid well. Which they were.

      • billybawl - May 7, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        What would a typical SF Giants batboy, cook, clubhouse attendant, etc. expect to make in tips during a regular and playoff season? Would they typically report it as income (as they’re supposed to), or would it be off the books?

        Is it reasonable to say that a MLB batboy makes around $55 x 81 home games = $4455 per season, exclusive of tips? I sure hope attendants and others make more than that.

      • evanwins - May 7, 2013 at 9:11 PM

        Oh Please. If this was the Phillies you would have BLASTED them into tomorrow; you never would have given up on it. You would be referring back to the situation for the next 5 months.

        Give me a break with your BS act. You are a troll with blog, plain and simple.

      • daveitsgood - May 7, 2013 at 9:58 PM

        To be fair, cherry pickers aren’t always subject to minimum wage laws based on CA Ag/Farm law. They are typically paid out at “contract” wages which is based on production levels and not min. wage. Si se puede

      • manchestermiracle - May 7, 2013 at 10:21 PM

        So, evan, if Craig is “a troll with a blog” what does that make the idiot reading his stuff and whining about it?

  5. Marty - May 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    I understand the furor in righting the sidestepping of labor laws. But how is paying a bat boy $55 per game any different from paying a web designer $1000 per website?

    I also wonder if now the bat boys will have to be more diligent in reporting taxable tips, which is what this is probably about in cash starved SF government.

    • kopy - May 7, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      The web designer bills the client based on the amount of work that they do. They choose to bill, with the client’s agreement, for labor at a rate higher than minimum wage.

      The minimum wage in CA is $8 an hour. If any of those workers received $55 for a day of work 7 hours or longer, that’s a labor violation no matter how much the worker earned in tips.

      • kopy - May 7, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Also, a web designer is probably a contracted employee so a lot of rules are out the window. For example, if they bill for $200 but spend 50 hours on it because they made mistakes.

      • Marty - May 7, 2013 at 5:33 PM

        I agree that if $55 doesn’t cover the prevailing wage they are in trouble. But if it is in excess, I think the Giants should be within their rights to have a flat amount per game, just as a handyman is paid a flat rate to fix your furnace, or a web designer can charge you a flat rate to design a site, both not to expect a dime over that regardless of hours worked.

      • manchestermiracle - May 7, 2013 at 10:25 PM

        The difference in your examples, Marty, is that the ballboys aren’t independent contractors and the handyman and web designer are. There are numerous federal rules about who qualifies as an independent contractor and who doesn’t, but without going into them rest assured the ballboys or other labor at a ballpark would never qualify. That puts them under the umbrella of employees.

    • billybawl - May 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      I think in your example, the web designer is an independent contractor. It’s complicated (and widely abused) but independent contractors aren’t subject to most labor laws. The batboys are employees (subject to the control and direction of the team).

      • manchestermiracle - May 7, 2013 at 10:26 PM

        Oops, sorry billy, I didn’t see your post until I had written mine. You’re right, of course.

  6. stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Those filthy, greedy, money loving White devils!
    Down with the rich, down with the rich, down with the rich!

  7. yankeepunk3000 - May 7, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    come on Craig if they owed them about 700 K then OBVIOUSLY something was off. People were getting screwed. Most of these posts are spot on. Just stick to the law, its there for a reason Craig.

  8. stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    “California has the same minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped employees.”

    If you are going to be a waiter, waitress (or any other field that recieves tips)…it is better to do so in California. Just be prepared to take out a loan to pay for your dinner.

    • clydeserra - May 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Not even close to the case.

      And PS: in San Francisco the workers all have heath care.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        Thanks Clyde. Please advise how I am “not even close.”

        Are you saying (if either of us were waiters) it isn’t better to work in a place that makes $8.00 per hour + tips as opposed to a place…say…in Ohio that makes $3.50 per + tips?

        Further, are you trying to say the cost of a dinner in a nice reastaurant in San Francisco isn’t reflective of the costs to produce said dinner? Specifically, the employees’ wages?

        I am not a math wiz by any means so please forgive me if I am wrong.
        But it seems the wait staff in California is paid far better and the dinners in California would be far higher as well. Again…Math isn’t my strong suit but this seems to be pretty obvious.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 5:04 PM

        Clyde: Let’s expand on this a bit. Based upon your reply I am going to gather you either live in California or spend a great deal of time in the state.
        What did you pay per gallon for regular unleaded the last time you purchased fuel?

      • kopy - May 7, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        Isn’t California broke?

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        Thanks for the replies Clyde. And I mean that sincerely.
        $3.90 a gallon isn’t bad at all. I thought I saw/read/heard it was averaging around $5.00 a gallon. The Milk price ($3.50 a gallon) is equally reasonable. Especially considering the way milk has risen lately. I came home last night to FIVE (1/2 gallons) in the Fridge cause’ the Wife got them on-sale for $1.00 a piece. It took up most of my beer space but I couldn’t complain with those prices. lol! Back to the restaurant question I posed. I look forward to hearing your response.
        cause’ I have been to San Franciso and it was the most expensive place I have ever eaten in my life. This was about 10 years ago. Took in the Cardinals/Giants game. You guys have a beautiful ballpark!

      • clydeserra - May 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        STL: Restaurants are reasonable. You can spend way too much because of all the “Chef’s” and their signature restaurants, but there are many many mom and pop type alternatives. Although I can’t think of where an Olive garden or any national chain place to compare prices apples to apples.

        there are many cheap and great options as well.

        As for gas and milk, the last I filled up yesterday when i happened to be out of SF itself was about $3.70 or so, didn’t really look. I don’t pay much attention to the prices because you can get around easily on public transit, but I think I say an “8” in the middle column. so $3.90 was a guess.

        Like it was said below costs are not really noticeably higher, but salaries are in line, so all in all, its really no different than anywhere else cost wise.

    • nategearhart - May 7, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      I live in Kansas City, and I visit friends in San Francisco as often as possible, ideally at least twice a year. I’ve also been to St. Louis many, many times. Most things in SF don’t cost more. Eating out, for instance. Beef costs a little more, seafood costs a whole lot less. Getting around is cheaper because public transportation is much, much better. Not to mention the standard of living is, overall, much much better. Your rent is higher. Your taxes are higher. But your salary will be higher. So it all evens out.
      I don’t get why you are all over this thread insulting the place. If you want to pay less and live in St. Louis, well, you get what you pay for.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        Insulting the place? Really Nate? Insulting? Dude…you might rank up their as one of the most easily pissed off/insulted dudes on this board. LOOK. AT. MY. REPLY. TO. CLYDE.
        I was being sincere. I don’t live in St. Louis…nor Missouri. Never have.
        As for eating in San Francisco…one of the pricest places I have ever dined. And I eat at a lot of nice restaurants while on Business. But I LOVED my time in San Francisco. Fun place.
        The seafood was wonderful. And much cheaper….then where I live…in INDIANA.

  9. ThatGuy - May 7, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Why is everyone mentioning minimum wage? Neither the newspaper article or the blog mention minimum wage. It violated a law that says you had to pay them hourly, which they weren’t.

    I would bet they figured out what the fair wage was, and hours worked above that is what is being repaid based on the fair hourly wage. Its got nothing to do with minimum wage.

    • billybawl - May 7, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      What is the “fair” hourly wage if not the minimum wage? You can violate this law when you pay a non-exempt employee a salary that works out to less than minimum wage.

  10. billybawl - May 7, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    My hunch is that the Giants not only had to pay back wages — some combination of minimum wage and daily (Calif.) overtime — but also penalties for missed meal and rest periods. With 74 employees, and (I think) a 3-year statute of limitations, it can add up pretty quickly.

  11. Tim's Neighbor - May 7, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Those guys work their butts off doing mostly unglamorous dirty work. Most easily would work 10-15 hour days. Working in baseball just isn’t as easy as many assume. It’s hard work and the pay isn’t great even when the clubs are following the law. Glad to see the Giants made the change.

  12. manchestermiracle - May 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Guess there’s more than one way to buy a title. Maybe we’ll hear a little less smug commentary about what the Dodgers are paying their players.

    • aquaria40 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:25 PM

      The underpay over a several year period for 70+ employees can’t even get Adrian Gonzales to wipe his butt, moron.

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