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Proposed Law Would Apply Minimum Wage to Minor League Athletes

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Minor league baseball players are suing Major League Baseball, claiming unfair pay. But a new proposal in Illinois would protect independent leagues from a similar lawsuit.

The state’s minimum wage law applies to most workers, but there are a few exceptions: farm hands, children of small business owners, and outdoor salesmen to name a few.

Rich Sauget is the owner of the Gateway Grizzlies, a minor league team in the East St. Louis area. He wants his players, coaches, and trainers to be added to that list.

“We can’t afford to have a situation that’s going on with major league baseball.”

Minor leaguers who play on teams affiliated with Major League clubs say they’re not getting paid for things like bus trips and batting practice.

The Grizzlies are in the the Frontier League, which is totally independent from the M-L-B farm system. Sauget says the average stipend for his players is 800 dollars a month. They get free meals after games and free housing. That all ends once the season’s over. To get paid to be a ball player again, they have to wait ‘til next year.

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois. He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield. He graduated from Macalester College. Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.