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SBD/6/Leagues Governing Bodies
BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 148: DON'T HESITATE, LITIGATE!
Published January 6, 1995
The MLBPA, in a letter to management attorney Chuck O'Connor, said "that all unsigned players are entitled to unrestricted free agency because owners improperly changed work conditions and contract language when they implemented the salary-cap system on December 23." The union's case could affect 835 players. MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza: "We'll pursue this in court, in arbitration or any venue the owners desire." O'Connor dismissed it as another anti-cap ploy: "It's designed to shake up the clubs, but it's something we anticipated. We probably will use the letter as further evidence of the union's refusal to bargain collectively" (Ross Newhan, L.A. TIMES, 1/6). "The two sides remained focused on litigating rather than negotiating" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/6). O'Connor said arbitrator George Nicolau will not hear the dispute: "The grievance procedure is a creature of the contract. We don't have a contract so we don't have a grievance procedure. ... It will wind up at the NLRB" (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 1/6). WASHINGTON WATCH: White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta said that President Clinton is "very concerned" about the lack of progress in the dispute and that he plans to use "whatever kind of influence he can bring" to find a solution. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who met with Orza and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr on Wednesday, holds a similar meeting with acting Commissioner Bud Selig, Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris and Red Sox CEO John Harrington next week. While Former President Jimmy Carter offered his services as a mediator, the Clinton Administration, which appointed special mediator William Usery in mid-October, plans to stick with Usery (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/6). Of all the legislation offered during the opening days of the 104th Congress aimed at repealing baseball's antitrust exemption, USA TODAY's Hal Bodley writes that Rep. Pat Williams' (D-MT) bill has the "best shot." The Williams bill would subject both sides to binding arbitration if there is no deal by February 1. Fehr: "I don't know that one-year binding arbitration would be something we would not consider" (USA TODAY, 1/6). There is the possibility that the deadline on Williams' bill could be pushed back from February 1.