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BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 214: M-I-C, SEE YOU IN COURT
Published March 13, 1995
Baseball's owners and players are set to resume talks this week at The Swan Hotel in Disney World, near Orlando. There was confusion, however, over whether the two sides would meet tomorrow or Wednesday. The owners' committee meets today with Special Mediator William Usery to begin discussions on their "best offer," which Usery requested be presented to the players this week. The schedule "may be further complicated" by the expected ruling from the NLRB on the players' charge of unfair labor practices against the owners. NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein is expected to issue a complaint against the owners, followed immediately by a request to the Board that it seek an injunction in U.S. District Court (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 3/13). Management sources indicate if owners do present their "best offer" to players, "it will be just that -- an offer with little or no room to be diluted" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/12). NOT AFRAID OF THE NLRB? One owner: "We know the NLRB will always rule in favor of a union. Our lawyers let us know that the chances of management winning in front of this board are slim. But rulings don't mean beans. It's what happens in court that counts." Murray Chass notes that the NLRB's success rate in getting injunctions during FY '95 has been 83% (N.Y. TIMES, 3/12). Tribune Co. attorney Robert Ballow reportedly told the owners in Palm Beach: "You've only had three NLRB complaints; we never even take notice until we get to three figures" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/12). FEHR STRIKES OUT? In Baltimore, Buster Olney writes, "The union is in trouble, and unless an agreement is reached in the very near future, its members could start jumping ship to save themselves." One agent, on MLBPA Exec Don Fehr: "The best thing that could happen now is for Don to walk away. I don't know how that can be done gracefully, but a change needs to be made" (Baltimore SUN, 3/12). Fehr: "If I believed I was the problem I would resign tomorrow. But it's not that simple" (Peter Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/12). In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg writes, "The union's leverage has all but disappeared. While the work stoppage may go on for some time, when it does end it appears the players will be the big losers" (ATL. CONSTITUTION, 3/12). OWNERSHIP STANDS FIRM: ESPN's Peter Gammons: "The message at [the Palm Beach] meetings was that the owners really believe they won no matter what the NLRB says and that they have gone too far not to hold out for what they want" ("Sports Weekly," 3/12). In his GLOBE column, Gammons quotes one moderate owner: "The union has driven us to this point. Look at McMorris and [Red Sox CEO John] Harrington. They started out in the same camp as [the Mets'] Fred Wilpon and [the Orioles'] Peter Angelos, but after seven months of negotiating with these guys are hard-line in their resolve to get a meaningful deal." Gammons notes, "While the owners don't know that the center of the union is indeed falling apart, they are proceeding on that theory" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/12). One source close to the talks says the time for a deal was in Scottsdale: "Fehr had his shot. Now the window of opportunity is closed, and (the owners) want to break the union" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/11).