News & Commentary

July 5, 2016

Jon Weinberg

Jon Weinberg is a student at Harvard Law School.

A bill has been introduced to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act – to exclude poorly-paid minor league baseball players from its protections.  The “Save America’s Pastime Act” would clarify the FLSA to explicitly state that minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to “any employee who has entered into a contract to play baseball at the minor league level.”  According to Above The Law, the Act is a response to a federal lawsuit proposed as a class action that alleges minor league baseball salaries violate the FLSA.  Notably, “Starting pay for minor leaguers is between $1,100 and $2,150 a month, and only during the season” despite year-round conditioning and training requirements.

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) becomes a sensitive campaign issue, Labor Secretary and potential Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tom  Perez continues to defend his role in creating it while not saying if he supports it.  The Hill reports that Secretary Perez defended his work on the TPP but “dodged pointed questions about whether or not he personally supports the TPP.”  Secretary Perez also defended the TPP’s enforcement provisions and putting American workers first, stating “If we’re going to succeed in protecting American workers, we’ve got to make sure we have tough, enforceable provisions.  And that’s what I’ve done.”

Domestic workers in Myanmar quietly struggle without protections.  Reuters published a report on domestic workers in the country who migrate to its cities and send money home and how “the process of relatives or neighbors connecting girls with wealthier families is being replaced by recruitment agencies and unregistered brokers, prompting calls for more to be done to ensure they are treated well and know their rights” since the workers “usually receive little pay and lack labor rights protection, and the maids are often young – or underage – and vulnerable to various forms of abuse by their employer.”

Finally, Donald Trump‘s campaign continues to garner news coverage for its trade rhetoric and appeals to American workers.  The Washington Post analyzed whether rank-and-file union workers will be attracted to Trump, despite major unions endorsing Hillary Clinton.  Writing for The New York Times, Paul Krugman dismissed Trump as a pro-labor candidate and cited the work of Lawrence Mishel and the Economic Policy Institute in refuting what Mishel calls the “Trump trade scam.”

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