Friday, August 30, 2013

San Francisco Giants Cheats the Batboy

A San Francisco Giants clubhouse manager spends their days rounding up sweaty uniforms, ordering food for the high-priced players and making sure that the bat boys scrape the mud off the players' cleats.

Players and coaches are sometimes expected to add gratuities to the daily "dues" they pay to clubhouse managers at home and on the road. These dues cover the cost of food and drinks, which clubhouse managers pay for out of their own pockets. While there's no set fee for dues, players on several teams said the accepted minimum is about $45 a day for rookies. At home, the high-priced players typically pay their own clubhouse manager and attendants every few weeks, or in a lump sum at the season's end.

But the U.S. Department of Labor investigators found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions which affected a whole range of the San Francisco Giants employees --- including the clubhouse managers and their assistants.

The baseball team had to pay 74 of their employees $544,715 in back wages and liquidated damages after the Department of Labor investigation determined that the Major League Baseball club failed to properly pay these workers over a three-year period.

The investigation had determined that clubhouse employees were working more hours than were recorded. Under an employment agreement, the club established a flat rate of pay of $55 for working 5.5 hours per day. However, investigators found that the employees actually worked an average of 12 to 15 hours daily for their thankless duties, and the workers received less than the hourly federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The California State minimum wage is $9 an hour and San Francisco has it's own minimum wage of $10.55 an hour. (The Giants' employees were also not paid overtime for hours exceeding 40 in a week.)

San Francisco is a beautiful place to live, but the cost of living in this grand city is 69 percent above the national average. Susana Blanco, director of the San Francisco District Office of the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor, said this case underscores the importance of wage protections: "It was disappointing to learn that clubhouse workers providing services to high-paid sports stars weren't making enough to meet the basic requirements of minimum-wage law."

And who's responsible for these meager wages? Until last year, Bill Neukom was the CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and has a net worth of $850 million. He accumulated his wealth through his 17-year career at Microsoft, where he was the Chief Legal officer and general counsel.

But Neukom had been asked to step aside by the Giants Executive Committee because of a series of financial disagreements during Neukom's three-year stewardship of the team. He had been accused of abusing his fiduciary duties, spending money as he saw fit, such as spending millions to scoop up baseball players without even consulting with the Executive Committee.

The San Francisco Giants ownership structure features 32 people known as "principal partners." The true power, however, lies with the 10-member Executive Committee, consisting of owners with the most monetary investment in the team. The committee appoints the Giants' CEO, who is the frontman for the franchise and has authority over day-to-day franchise activities. Charles Johnson is one of the 100 wealthiest people in America and is the Giants top partner.

The San Francisco Giants new president and chief operating officer is Larry Baer. Last month President Obama was flanked by team members as the Giants' manager presented him with a signed bat and ball. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was also in attendance at the ceremony, where the Giants' CEO congratulated Obama on his own "second victory" last November, noting he was re-elected just days after the Giants had clinched the teams' second World Series in Detroit.

Last month the rich and famous (the top 1%) had casually hobnobbed with the President of the United States on the White House lawn and in the East Room, congratulating each other, while all that time the San Francisco Giants batboy was being paid below the federal legal minimum wage in one of the most expensive cities in the world to live.

The San Francisco Giants is valued at $786 million. The average ticket price is $28 (not accounting for food or other expenses).

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