Home / General / I Guess We Know Where the Giants Got the Money to Pay a Fading Tim Lincecum $35 Million

I Guess We Know Where the Giants Got the Money to Pay a Fading Tim Lincecum $35 Million

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What a surprise that billionaire sports owners would steal from their poorest employees:

Two Major League Baseball clubs–the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins—are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible federal wage law violations. The investigations come amid wider concern about questionable pay practices throughout professional baseball, according to interviews and records obtained by FairWarning under the Freedom of Information Act.

Labor Department spokesman Jason Surbey confirmed the investigations of the Marlins and Giants, but would not give details. However, emails reviewed by FairWarning show that possible improper use of unpaid interns is a focus of the Giants probe. It is the Labor Department’s second recent investigation of the Giants over pay practices involving lower level employees.

An attorney for the Giants said the team would not comment on the current investigation. A Marlins spokesman said the club does not believe “that any of the Marlins’ current labor practices are improper….We can confirm that the Marlins have been and will continue to cooperate fully with the Department of Labor.” Major League Baseball officials could not be reached.

Officials with the department’s Wage and Hour Division announced in August that the Giants had resolved the prior case by agreeing to pay $544,715 in back wages and damages to 74 employees. Many were clubhouse workers the agency said were paid at a daily rate of $55, but who sometimes worked so many hours that they got less than minimum wage and no overtime. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

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  • I’ve told this story before but I think its worth repeating. The reason Balzac says “Behind every great fortune lies a {great] crime” (that’s my memory of it at any rate–is that its true. Mere ownership of all capital and the means of production is not enough for these people and never has been. In my little Nepali village there were some big landowners (not big by any standards but Nepal, of course) and they controlled labor by, for example, being able to dole out seed grain and food at the times of the year that small households were too poor to get across the gap. That way they could command days of labor (corvee by another name) when labor was tight since everyone was planting. But that wasn’t enough to increase the distance between wealthy and poor. In addition wealthy people often went to poor people to “borrow” some gold jewelry, which they would then deposit in the local bank and take out a loan against. They could then use the loan to buy up more land, or to gain access to seed crops which the local subsistence farmers couldn’t get. The power of having money and control over the means of production (land) and of labor means they could cheat their workers with impunity and ever increase the chance of making just a tiny bit more money.

    Nothing surprises me when it comes to how greedy and dishonest the wealthiest are. They just don’t really see their workers as having any human rights at all.

    • panda

      I am not a big fan of Maoism, but boy, travelling in Nepal as the civil war was unwinding (2002-2003) made me realize why the Maoists there were about X1000 better than the ruling elite.

      • Well, maoist. As for maoist, I had someone tell me they wanted the kind of maoism we presumably had in the US where we paid our workers and sent over nice people like the peace corps.

      • Mike Schilling

        Yeah, it’s not like the Maoists ever hurt anybody.

  • They just don’t really see their workers as havbeing any human rights at all.

    Fixed.

  • Big Ticket Items

    This just proves that the billionaire owners really DO need the massive stadium subsidies from their local governments. Why, they’re so poor[*] that they have to steal from their poorest employees.

    [*] Relative term.

  • rea

    It’s not like they need the money–they steal from their employees as a matter of principle.

  • keta

    Screwing over the working man? Why, it’s as American as hot dogs and eating some Mom’s pie!

  • Hogan

    “How do you think I got so rich?”

  • Darkrose

    The thing that really bugs me about the Giants one in addition to “Do better, guys”, is the lack of accountability. At least with the Marlins you know who to point the finger at, but the Giants ownership group is faceless aside from Larry Baer.

    But seriously, they need to do better. Don’t try to cry poor in the same breath that you’re boasting about the sellout streak. (Which only counts tickets sold and not butts in seats anyway.)

    • TT

      One of Giants’ owners is Bill Neukom, former general counsel at Microsoft, a company renowned for giving working people a fair shake. (Didn’t Bill Gates have a conniption when the janitors there tried to organize back in the ’90s/early ’00s?)

      • Darkrose

        Not any more. Neukom “retired” in 2011 and sold his share in the team to the other partners, who were unhappy with having to learn about major team decisions in the Chronicle.

  • pete

    Unskewed numbers prove that Timmy’s on the way back. His RBIs are down, but his batting average is up by almost 20%. (He did look better in the second half on the mound too.)

  • Bill Murray

    Many were clubhouse workers the agency said were paid at a daily rate of $55, but who sometimes worked so many hours that they got less than minimum wage and no overtime.

    at $7.25 an hour, $55 is a little over 7.5 hours work. That doesn’t seem like so many to me

    • thebewilderness

      If you work a 12 hour day, which most “interns” do it is a clear violation of law.
      I remember in the eighties when Regan changed the effing labor rules and opened the door to this abuse and it has gone exactly where people warned at the time that it would.
      Suddenly we had students pulling work shifts as part of their education. Many grievances were filed.

    • sparks

      Minimum wage is $8.00/hr in CA this year.

      • Max Daru

        Minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.55/hour.

    • Bill in Section 147

      I hope this is snark. The idea of having to get to the stadium and having to work 7.5 hours for $55 is somehow close to fair is ridiculous. Even if you could find a cardboard box in the area you would be commuting hours each way.

  • bg

    Because it’s not enough to steal from the taxpayers of Miami … gotta steal more from the ones who can afford it the least

    Meantime, our schools crumble and our public hospital system is almost broke

  • R. Porrofatto

    C’mon, that $544,000 in back pay and damages was almost 2 whole tenths of one entire percent of the Giants’ $300 million revenue last year. That’s a whopping $7,300 EXTRA for each of these 74 moochers. Sports isn’t a charity, it’s a business. Owners gotta eat, too!

  • Manju

    wait till you hear what those in the adjunct clubhouse go paid

  • Josh G.

    I’d like to see the MLBPA at least issue a public statement supporting these workers. Labor solidarity is important (and, from a more self-interested perspective, sticking up for guys making minimum wage might be good for the MLBPA’s public image).

  • 4jkb4ia

    Today the Cardinals pitching went according to script. (I told you! Didn’t I tell you? It would have been true yesterday, if it hadn’t been for Bad Pete Kozma.)

    Josh G.’s comment is a good one. The reflected glamour of the players allows the owners/management to think they would be in this gig for nothing and that the lowest workers on the totem pole would also do it for nothing. In the reserve clause days this was the very assumption that allowed the players to be paid much less than they were worth.

  • Maybe the clubhouse workers, like bar and restaurant workers, were expected to make the rest of their money off of tips – from the players.

    I assume they’re still waiting…

    Having been a bartender in NY City back in the early-mid 80’s, I don’t want to disillusion you folks about how cheap our richest athletes can be.

    I will say though, that out of all of the sports, Hockey players were by far the most generous.

    Baseball, Football, and Basketball stars all assumed that their mere presence, was tip enough.

    Maybe things have changes since then.
    But, I doubt it…

  • Pseudonym

    Forget it, Erik, it’s China Basin.

  • Francis

    Being “general” counsel in a small company leads one down interesting paths. I recently learned:

    “Exempt” employees under California law are those who hold positions of such responsibility (executive / technical etc.) that they are exempt from being paid overtime.

    The interesting bit is that exempt employees must receive a monthly salary no less than two times the state minimum wage, assuming a 40 hour work week.

    So to qualify as exempt in California, you have to be paid $37,440 annually as of July 1, 2014 (when state minimum wage goes to $9/hour) and $41,600 annually as of January 1, 2016 (when state minimum wage goes to $10/hour.)

    Tell your friends.

    This concludes your California employment law PSA. We now return you to your regular programming.

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