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Minor leaguers suing over unfair labor practices amend their lawsuit

Mar 6, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

lawsuit gavel

Remember that lawsuit filed by three minor leaguers against Major League Baseball a couple of weeks ago? It was amended yesterday, with many more teams added as defendants, many more players added as plaintiffs, and a couple of new counts added as well.

Multiple new minor leaguers are now signed on as plaintiffs, and the teams for whom the played are now defendants, including the Royals, Marlins, Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays, White Sox, Indians, Astros, Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Reds, Cardinals, Rockies, Padres, Twins and Nationals. One presumes that, eventually, the plaintiffs will attempt to get players from every major league team and thus sue every franchise.

The introduction to the suit:

The collective Defendants are either members of or govern the cartel known as Major League Baseball (“MLB”). The organization traces its roots to the nineteenth century. Unfortunately for many of its employees, its wage and labor practices remain stuck there.

The entire complaint is embedded below, and a larger version can be read here.

This is a doozy. Whether it will be successful is hard to say. It’s superficially appealing, legally speaking, but I’m no labor lawyer. The suit is large and complex enough to where anything can happen. But the allegations strike right at the heart of the Major League Baseball monopoly and the very manner in which it does business. If this is successful — or if it even leads to a settlement of some kind — it could mean major changes to the way baseball does business.

  1. themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Beyond the veil, somewhere in the afterlife, Marvin Miller is smiling.

    • Old Gator - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      I expect his face to appear on a hamburger bun.

      • thekcubrats - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Hot dog! Hot dog bun, my liege; this is baseball.

      • Old Gator - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        Wel-l-l….but it’d have to be the long way…..

    • historiophiliac - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      Obi Wan grew stronger after he gave up the body.

      • Old Gator - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        More powerful than we could possibly imagine, I’m told. You could say that he’s in the best shape of his afterlife.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        I hope they trust their feelings

  2. billybawl - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    You may want to avoid using “unfair labor practice” which is the specific term used for a charge filed with the NLRB over violations of the laws relating to concerted activity (unions). I saw the headline and thought minor leaguers were trying to organize a union.

  3. karlkolchak - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    I wish the plantiffs well, but in reality their situation isn’t really any different that how young adults are being screwed all across this economy. How is this any different than the unpaid or minimally paying “internships,” often leading nowhere, that have become a staple of corporate America?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:48 AM

      I would assume this will follow much of the internship litigation, which was actually successful last year.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:41 AM

        Yet, grad students have had some difficulties with their legal challenges (particularly against private schools). Based on that, I’d say it’s smart they are taking this to the courts and avoiding the NLRB.

    • Ben - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      How is “everyone else is screwed, so we should be screwed too” a reasonable argument?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        No, it’s “a court ruled last year that you can’t pay people a less-than-legal wage under the guise of it not being a real job, so the court should rule the same goes here as well”

      • Ben - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Threading on this got weird, was dircted at karlkolchak, not you.

      • karlkolchak - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        Guess you missed the part where I wished the plaintiffs well.

    • righthandofjustice - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      Perhaps you don’t realize this whole DOL investigation dated back to late 2012 was not started by baseball empolyees or anybody related to it. It was started by DOL itself.

      When the government spontaneously start an investigation on somebody, watch out! They have something and are up to something serious!

  4. Old Gator - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    David, here’s your slingshot. Now go out there and drop that hulking mamzer!

    • historiophiliac - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Let’s hope they didn’t just send David out to do a job best left to Delilah.

      • Old Gator - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        This is no work for a woman. Neither is the cockpit of an airliner!

        Nyuknyuknyuknyuk!

  5. zzalapski - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Question: Since the minor league teams are independent entities except for the Player Development Contracts — notice that they are not included as defendants — would it be beneficial (financially or otherwise) for the MiLB owners to side with the players, MLB, or neither?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      I think most minor league clubs like the control the big league teams have over the players. They aren’t in the player-payment business. They’re in the “open our stadium and sell tickets” business, and that’s much easier.

  6. dparker713 - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Craig, read paragraph 47. Things could get fairly hot under the collar for one Mr. Selig.

  7. happytwinsfan - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    it includes a demand for a jury trial. being at this place they insist on calling “work”, i only skim read it, but going by that if it gets to a jury i think MLB will get creamed.

    • jeffbbf - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      So…what if a handful of those jurors are baseball fans. And what if those jurors/baseball fans are privately thinking…”holy crap, if this thing is successful, ticket prices are going to go even HIGHER” Or what if they are thinking…”those sniveling little whiners – they had the greatest job in the world – playing BASEBALL – and they’re trying to bring down the system because they couldn’t make it or didn’t appreciate the money they were making to play?”
      Just sayin’ a jury trial is probably a total wildcard. Which, of course, may be the suit’s only shot at succeeding if the jury goes the other way. But to say MLB will get creamed in a jury trial is pretty poor speculation.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:31 PM

        Honestly, I’d be more worried if it was comprised of 12 people who didn’t know who Roger Clemens is.

      • happytwinsfan - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        you might be right, and you’re definitely right about a jury being wild card, but i still think the jury will see a bunch of young guys coming out of high school who went to work for, at least indirectly, a group of billionaires and got paid next to nothing, and when their dream came to an end, left with next to nothing. i’m guessing that if a jury heard the day to day details of this they’re going to identify with the kids more then the billionaires and after they see the venal origins of the system, no how many angels can dance on the head of a pin legal rationale is going to save them.

  8. dparker713 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    “115. While some highly talented players retain agents (or advisors) to assist them with negotiations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association—the governing body for college baseball players and prospective college baseball players—prohibits amateur athletes from employing agents or attorneys during contract negotiations. MLB teams have even cooperated with the NCAA to enforce the rule, with suspensions resulting.”

    Love that.

    • hep3 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      With my best sarcasm font, I wish to state:

      “The integrity of the organization that is the NCAA and also their ‘student-athletes’ must be protected at all costs!”

  9. righthandofjustice - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    The minor leaguers are treated like slaves. Not only are they paid less than what the minimum wage law suggested and traded like slaves without their consent, even when they want to quit baseball for good they need to get the permission of Bud Selig!

    This is unbelievable! So when the exploited youngsters found out they signed a slavery contract with the devil and decided to leave hell, devil Selig popped his ugly head out and said “no so fast, stay here! Your souls are mine for 7 years!”

    The Congress needs to summon Bud Selig for slavery!

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