The child labor complaint filed against the WHL’s four Washington-based teams may have sparked legislative change.
A bill has been introduced in the Washington State House of Representatives that could exempt WHL players from the state’s child labor laws, King5.com reported.
HB 1930 would change the language in the Minimum Wage Act, Industrial Welfare Act and Industrial Safety and Health Act, which govern labor practices for individuals under the age of 18. If the bill passes, athletes playing in amateur sports leagues would be exempt from the regulations.
Representatives from all four Washington-based WHL teams — the Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans — were in Olympia last Tuesday to speak in favor of the bill before the State House Committee on Labor.
“Our players are 100 percent amateurs,” Seattle general manager Russ Farwell told the committee, as reported by King5.com. The report also said Everett president Gary Gelinas told the committee that if the language in the laws isn’t changed, the teams may be forced to relocate outside of the state because they would no longer be able to include 16- and 17-year-old players on their rosters.
The House Committee on Labor is scheduled to take up the bill in an executive session Tuesday.
The legislation stems from a complaint filed with the State Department of Labor and Industry in September of 2013. An unnamed party alleged that WHL teams violate the state’s minimum wage laws. In December the Department of Labor and Industry announced it was expanding its investigation into the complaint.
The complaint is one of what’s become an increasing number of legal challenges to the Canadian Hockey League, of which the WHL is a member, designed to improve player compensation. Players are currently compensated with room, board, a small monthly stipend and a year of college paid for each season played in the league.
Around the WHL
With five weeks remaining in the season it appears just about ever playoff spot has been all but assured, with only seeding left to play for. The one exception, however, is third place in the B.C. Division, where Vancouver, Kamloops and Prince George are all separated by a single point. They are fighting for one playoff spot, unless one of the teams can pass Tri-City for a Western Conference wild card spot. … League-leading Kelowna has been playing without it’s No. 1 goaltender, Jackson Whistle. Whistle had to have his appendix removed and is expected to miss a couple more weeks. … Kelowna’s Leon Draisaitl was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 19-year-old forward had two goals and seven assists as the Rockets went 3-1.
Points— Trevor Cox (Medicine Hat) 94; goals— Cole Sanford (Medicine Hat) 46; assists— Cox 71; penalty minutes— Keegan Kanzig (Calgary) 134; wins— Jordan Papirny (Brandon) 36; goals against average— Taran Kozun (Seattle) 2.34; save percentage— Adin Hill (Portland) .924.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.