Inside Minor League Baseball Players' Fight for Unemployment Benefits

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The U.S. continues to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing economic shutdown. As of the latest jobs report from data accumulated in May, unemployment sat at 13.3%, though some believe the number could be even higher. 

Job losses have extended across sectors from retail to sports as most stadiums remain shuttered. 

Sports Illustrated's Emma Baccellieri breaks down how the pandemic has left minor league players without paychecks and fighting for unemployment benefits. 

Video Transcript: 

Robin Lundberg: Perhaps no aspect of sports has been ravaged more by the Coronavirus pandemic than minor league baseball. For more, I'm joined by our Emma Baccellieri. Emma, we've seen some teams stop paying minor leaguers. We've seen some major leaguers step up to try and help them. But now there is a quest to get unemployment.

Emma Baccellieri: Yeah. So traditionally, minor league baseball players have not been a group of people who can file for unemployment benefits based on the way that those regulations are structured. But right now, with some of the legislation that we've seen passed to expand those benefits to more workers, to gig workers to independent contractors, which are exactly what MLB has long argued that these players are. There is an avenue for minor leaguers to be able to file for unemployment and to be able to get those six hundred dollars a week, which is a a pretty huge sum for a minor leaguer, considering that is higher than even the salaries you see at triple-A.

Robin Lundberg: How do we expect minor league baseball to bounce back from all this, if at all?

Emma Baccellieri: It's gonna be really tough. Frankly, they're probably going to be a lot of franchises that that don't make it. Something like short season ball, that probably is not going to exist as we knew it. It's a tough time and it's going to be really hard for a lot of these clubs coming out of it.

Robin Lundberg: Obviously, you know, we see the effects with the unemployment story that you have as well. Emma, appreciate your time, as always. Thanks.
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