The Democratic congresswoman who co-sponsored legislation that would prevent minor league baseball players from earning the minimum wage withdrew her support Thursday after the plan drew widespread backlash on social media and other platforms.
Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) introduced the Save America's Pastime Act early this week. The legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to exempt minor league baseball players from the law's minimum wage and overtime standards.
But Bustos, who has supported Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour in the past, announced on Twitter that she would no longer back the bill.
“In the last 24 hours, several concerns about the bill have been brought to my attention that have led me to immediately withdraw my support of the legislation," Bustos said in a subsequent statement.
The bill came more than a year after Minor League Baseball said it would seek congressional relief from minimum wage law, after a group of former players alleged in a 2014 lawsuit that Major League Baseball and its clubs had violated federal minimum wage and overtime standards by underpaying minor leaguers. Many minor league players, the group asserted, make less than $7,500 per season, which, adjusted to an hourly wage, amounts to less than the federal minimum. (Major League clubs pay the salaries of minor league players).
Bustos, Guthrie and Minor League Baseball attempted to make the case that the bill was imperative to protect the future of the sport and that if the former players' lawsuit was successful, cost increases in the sport could occur.
But Bustos, whose district is home to the Class-A Peoria Chiefs, said Thursday that "while it's important to sustain minor league baseball teams ... I cannot support legislation that does so at the expense of the players that draw us to stadiums in the Quad-Cities and Peoria."
"Whether it’s on the factory floor, in classrooms or on the playing fields of one of America’s revered traditions, I strongly support raising the minimum wage and the right to collective bargaining for fair wages," Bustos continued, "and I believe that Major League Baseball can and should pay young, passionate minor league players a fair wage for the work they do.”