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San Francisco Giants ordered to pay $700,000 in back wages to clubhouse workers

Big League Stew

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This is a profitable time for anyone who worked in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse from the 2009 through 2011 seasons.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that the hometown San Francisco Giants have agreed to pay at least "$700,000 in back wages and penalties to 74 batboys, cooks, clubhouse attendants and other workers after a federal audit concluded the team's salary practices were improper."

What happened here? Just another slip-up in the payroll department? No, just a hard lesson in economics when the government enforces the law:

The Giants say it's not like the workers were getting stiffed. It's been customary at AT&T Park - as it is in clubhouses around the majors - for players to pay the workers handsome tips. In the Giants' case, some workers also got a split of the bonuses that players receive for making the postseason.

Still, the team switched to a regular pay-by-the-hour system for all the employees before the 2012 season. Soon after, however, the U.S. Labor Department had ordered an audit that eventually concluded the Giants owed $270,000 in back pay covering the previous three years.

After adding in penalties and even more salary owed under state law, the total exceeded $700,000 - for an average payout of more than $9,400 per worker.

In issuing the back paychecks, team executives told the employees that "although the Giants may not agree with these findings, we have made the decision to resolve this matter as requested."

How well-compensated with tips these workers are, it's hard to say. Occasionally, checks are written out, but often players will peel hundred-dollar bills from their wallets for the little people behind the scenes who help make a team go. And when we're talking cash, some of which probably isn't accounted for come tax time, well, who knows?

Clubhouse work might be arduous — long, sweaty hours — but it's tough to call it more exploitative than, say, being a waiter or waitress. And the words "too bleeping busy" can't be in their vocabulary, either. Not when the players need pine tar, STAT!

Now, the scouts, along with the clubhouse guys in the minor leagues, those guys might be exploited. That'll be a court case someday, maybe.

And speaking of the conundrum of tipping (NSFW):

Everybody throw in a buck!

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