Since Steve Ballmer became the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, the team has become flush with money. The team has an owner both with money and a willingness to spend.The luxury tax is an accepted cost of doing business. Expected future television revenue appears fantastic. Things are looking green and fans are savoring this change in fortune.
Yet not everyone has benefited from the influx of money. The Clippers' eighteen cheerleaders, collectively known as Clippers Spirit, remain underpaid. A Jezebel article back in August took a look at the state of pay for the Clippers Spirit girls. The reality was, to be a Clippers' Spirit girl,
"You'll have to have a second job. All these girls have second jobs."
"You just don't sleep."
Instead, time management advice given to prospective Clippers' Spirit girls include that
"You can skip your lunch. You can get to work early."
This is because despite being considered as a part-time position, it is commonplace for NBA cheerleaders to devote 30 - 35 hours a week during the season.
Sadly enough, Clippers cheerleaders are actually some of the "luckier" ones in the NBA.
This year, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, herself a former collegiate cheerleader, introduced Assembly Bill 202, which required cheerleaders on professional sports teams in California to be treated as employees, and thus guaranteed at least a minimum wage.
Since this bill did pass, the Clippers' Spirit girls are able to at least earn minimum wage. The same cannot be said for other NBA cheerleaders. As a result, the movement of lawsuits on behalf of cheerleaders, that began in the NFL, has spread to the NBA. On Saturday, Think Progress reported that
Lauren Herington, a former cheerleader for the Milwaukee Bucks, filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the team engaged in "prolific wage abuse" against her and her colleagues. It says that they were paid rates that amounted to between $3.50 and $4.50 an hour and that they weren't paid time-and-a-half in overtime if they worked more than 40 hours a week. Wisconsin's minimum wage is the same as the federal level of $7.25 an hour.
In the end though, even the minimum wage is likely not enough. While Clippers' Spirit uniforms are provided for free (thankfully), cheerleaders are still expected to spend (their own) money on their bodies: whether it is for tans, hair salons, or beauty products. These are all however costs that are basically required for their Spirit positions. As such, perhaps Steve Ballmer and Clippers' management could direct a little bit of their extensive riches and help out other members of the Clippers' organization/family.