‘A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ or ‘working for love and not money’? Using class actions to challenge the labour law exclusion in Minor League Baseball in the United States

Matt Nichol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Major League Baseball (MLB) annually generates US$9 billion in revenue and the average salary for a professional player is nearly US$4 million, with some earning over US$20 million per year. Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which acts as a development channel for MLB teams, is also lucrative and teams can generate millions from attendance, advertising and merchandise. Yet MiLB players are paid only between US$1,100 and US$2,150 per month during the season. Like many athletes and artists who are either specifically excluded from labour laws or fall outside their scope because they are not seen as employees, MiLB players are marginalised by antitrust and labour laws, a position reinforced by their exclusion from the Major League players’ association and the absence of collective bargaining. Barriers to legal recourse exist for Minor League players in the form of federal antitrust law exemption and a new exemption from federal labour law introduced in 2018. This article examines the plight of Minor League players and their response in accessing a fair wage or a ‘living’ wage through the use of class actions in antitrust law and federal labour law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalLabour and Industry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • minimum wages
  • living wage
  • sports management
  • class actions
  • antitrust law

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