Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser: The NYSAC and Minimum Wage – Oops!

New York governor Andrew Cuomo likes to present himself as a friend of labor. When it comes to powerful unions that influence large blocs of voters, that might be true. But closer to home, the Cuomo Administration is falling short of the mark.

Some New York State Athletic Commission employees are being paid well below New York’s statutorily-required minimum wage.

At present, the minimum wage in New York City is twelve dollars per hour. For businesses in New York City with eleven or more employees, it’s thirteen dollars per hour.

The New York State Department of Labor website states, “The Minimum Wage Act requires that all employees in New York State receive at least the applicable hourly minimum wage rate. This includes domestic workers.”

The NYS Department of Labor website further advises, “We help collect underpayments for workers who have not received the minimum wage. Often, we collect the funds without resorting to court action. However, an employer that violates the Minimum Wage Law is subject to criminal prosecution and penalties. Action may also be taken in civil court. The Commissioner of Labor may require an employer to pay minimum wage underpayments and liquidated damages plus interest and civil penalties of up to 200 percent of the unpaid wages.”

Does the New York State Athletic Commission run afoul of the law? Let’s look at NYSAC inspectors as an example.

Inspectors are the eyes and ears of the commission on fight night. Former NYSAC chairman Ron Scott Stevens once explained, “The inspectors do all the dirty work. Everyone else is in the arena enjoying the show. The inspectors are in the dressing rooms making sure that everything is done above-board and that the rules and regulations of the commission are being followed. The only time they come out is when the fighter they’re assigned to is fighting.”

For years, NYSAC inspectors were paid fifty dollars a night. David Berlin (who served as NYSAC executive director from May 2014 to May 2016) lobbied successfully to have their pay increased to one hundred dollars per show. But that doesn’t meet New York’s 2018 legislative standard.

By way of example, NYSAC inspectors were ordered to report to Barclays Center for the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz fight card on March 3 at 2:30 PM. Many of them were on the job until 12:30 AM or later. That comes to ten dollars an hour, three dollars per hour below the legal minimum wage.

Multiple sources say that, as a matter of course, administrators fill out false time sheets for NYSAC inspectors to cover up the infraction.

Adding insult to injury, Ndidi Massay (the only NYSAC commissioner to attend the fight card on March 3) didn’t arrive at Barclays Center until after 9:00 PM.

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Rocky Marciano: “Why waltz with a guy for ten rounds if you can knock him out in one?”

Joe Frazier: “I loved fighting. I never backed down and I never backed off. Being a fighter gave me the opportunity to prove myself; to stand up and say, ‘I’m the best; I matter; I am.’”

Larry Holmes: “To me, I’m better than Ali ever was. I’m better than Joe Louis ever was. In my opinion, my opinion. And I have the right to say that about myself.”

George Foreman: “It’s all about, do you want to fight. Coming up rough is not a passport. I fought a lot of guys who came up rough, but they didn’t want to fight.”

Lennox Lewis: “Being courageous and being foolish come out of the same bag of groceries. It’s very important that a fighter know the difference.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at His most recent book – There Will Always Be Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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