Dodgers reimburse minor league players for spring training clubhouse dues
The Dodgers have reimbursed minor league players who were improperly asked to pay clubhouse dues during spring training, according to general manager Brandon Gomes, after a player advocacy group highlighted the issue in a report last week.
“Their having to pay dues was a message that got lost along the way,” Gomes said. “That was not the intention of anything we were trying to do. We take a great amount of pride in taking care of and making sure our minor leaguers are in a good place. So that was something that was not intentional.”
The situation came to light Thursday when a group called Advocates for Minor Leaguers reported on Twitter that signs had been posted in the minor league spring training clubhouses of the Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins saying players were required to pay clubhouse dues.
Clubhouse dues for players, which generally are used to tip clubhouse attendants and buy other supplies around the locker room, were eliminated for minor leaguers by a directive from Major League Baseball in November 2020. The practice was banned at the major league level in 2017, as part of the league’s previous collective bargaining agreement.
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Gomes said last week’s report — which included a photo of a sign asking Dodgers minor leaguers to pay $40 — was the first time the team’s front office was aware dues were being collected in their minor league clubhouse. The Dodgers took down their sign the next day and reimbursed their players by Sunday.
“As soon as we caught wind, it was, ‘Hey, let’s handle this the right away,” said Gomes, who is in his first season as general manager and previously oversaw the Dodgers farm system as director of player development in 2018.
Although minor league players aren’t paid during spring training, Gomes noted the Dodgers provided housing and three meals a day to their players while they trained in Arizona.
Advocates for Minor Leaguers was formed in 2020 to promote better working conditions for minor league players, who are not represented by a union.
The group’s executive director, Harry Marino, issued a statement Monday about the Dodgers’ reimbursement of players.
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“We are pleased that the Dodgers moved quickly to reimburse players who were charged clubhouse dues this Spring Training,” Marino said. “Minor Leaguers make poverty-level wages and have not received a paycheck since last September; they should not be required to pay the salaries of other team employees under any circumstances.
“This incident further illustrates that all professional baseball players should have a seat at the table to discuss their working conditions. Until that day comes, our organization will continue to hold MLB teams publicly accountable for their treatment of Minor Leaguers, as we have promised.”
Dodgers minor leaguers have been leaving Arizona in recent days to report to their affiliates for the beginning of their seasons. The Dodgers’ triple A affiliate, the Oklahoma City Dodgers, opens its season Tuesday. The club’s other three minor league outfits — the double A Tulsa Drillers, high A Great Lakes Loons and low A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes — open their seasons Friday.
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