Wednesday, June 29, 2016

HR 5580 "Save America's Pastime Act" - My letter to my Congressman

I understand not all of our readers will agree with this stance, and many more may not even care, but with The Constable's permission, I'm going to post the letter I sent to my representative below. To be honest, much of it is copy/pasted from other sources, but I feel it accurately reflects my stance, and the stance of some of our other writers here at Astros County. Sources include Mike Bates, Bill Baer, and Melissa Lockard
For a brief primer on this issue, this post at Hardball Talk is a good starting point.

"H.R. 5580, titled “Save America’s Pastime Act,” was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) last Friday, a bill that amends some language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to make it so minor league players aren’t protected under the law. I am strongly opposed to this bill.

Minor leaguers are often paid less than $7,500 per season despite often requiring players to put in more hours than the typical work day. Major League Baseball pulled in more than $9 billion in revenues in 2015, per Maury Brown of Forbes. But it can’t afford to pay minor leaguers a fair wage? The Uniform Player Contract players are required to sign binds them to a team and keeps them from shopping their services elsewhere. Though players are only paid during the season, they are required to perform duties such as training, meetings and the like all year long and their duties and obligations to the club extend on a year-round basis too.

MiLBers are the lifeblood of the game, even the ones who don't make the bigs. They are the future coaches, scouts, advocates for the sport. While a few are fortunate enough to receive signing bonuses large enough to support themselves for a few years, or have a strong network of well-off family to supplement their salaries, the vast majority of these young men have to resort to sleeping on floors and couches, several to an apartment or hotel room, just to scrape by. Nobody expects minor leaguers to make a fortune, but they need to at least make a living wage during the season. They need to be compensated fairly for the time and effort they put in. And by that I mean ALL of the time and effort, including the mandatory workouts and Spring Training (for which ballplayers earn a small per diem).

I ask you to oppose this piece of legislation, and to further help ensure this unique set of workers are given adequate pay for the hours of labor they provide to their employers. It's fundamentally un-American not to pay a person a fair wage, and this bill is the very definition of that."

If you agree, feel free to use this in your own letter to your representative.

UPDATE: Rep. Bustos, after actually thinking about what her bill would do (read: after she realized how unpopular the bill was), withdrew her support of HR 5580.