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Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr met secretly in Washington yesterday for a session "designed to give Selig and Fehr the chance to tell each other where their sides stood in the talks" (Ronald Blum, AP/Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/21). One management rep: "The purpose of the meeting is to determine if it would be beneficial to resume formal negotiations." Selig was accompanied by attorney Rob Manfred, while "indications were" that MLBPA attorney Lauren Rich was also in attendance (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/21). "If yesterday's meeting was positive, negotiators for the owners and players apparently could get together -- probably in Washington or New York -- by Wednesday, and make one last push" for a settlement (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 3/21). WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Maske cites one management source who says that owners would postpone Opening Day and begin the season with the regulars if a settlement can be reached between now and April 1. Maske adds that some owners "apparently believe that Fehr might end the strike next month -- and force the owners to take a vote about a lockout -- even if the NLRB fails to obtain an injunction" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/21). Fehr has said he would end the strike only if the NLRB delivers an injunction against the owners. One owner, who said a month ago that there would be no lockout, now puts the odds at 50-50. The owner: "If Selig is for a lockout, he'll get 23 votes" (Jerome Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/21). Phillies GM Lee Thomas: "I don't think the players understand there's no money there now. We'll see where all these ideals are that they're fighting for when this is over and there are a few dollars for the big boys and the rest of the guys don't get anything" (Jayson Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/21). NEWS & NOTES: The Yankees will give 50% refunds or credits to season-ticket holders for any games played with 10 or more replacement players on the 40-man roster. But season-ticket holders who get refunds may not be able to retain their seats for the 1996 season (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21). ....Cincinnati's WLWT-TV plans to drop its broadcast of Friday's Reds exhibition game citing lack of interest from advertisers. WLW-AM said it has not heard back from Owner Marge Schott on the station's request to drop weekday Reds replacement games (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/21).
Financial reports filed with the U.S. Labor Dept. by three of the major pro sports unions -- MLBPA, NBPA and NFLPA -- "offer a snapshot of how much these unions are worth, how they acquire money and how they spend it," according to Mike Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES. "With assets in the tens and, in the case of baseball, hundreds of millions of dollars, sports unions have been able to ease the burden of dues on players, pay their leaders as if they were CEO's and build fat war chests to fight longer and harder during times of labor strife." No report was available for the NHLPA, which is based in Canada. LEADER'S NO. OF AVG. MEMBER UNION LEADER SALARY MEMBERS SALARY NFLPA Gene Upshaw $1,236,443 2,000 $750,000 MLBPA Don Fehr $950,000 800 $1.2M NBPA Charles Grantham $550,307 400 $1.5M AFL-CIO Lane Kirkland $204,672 13.3M $30,784 UNION DUES COLLECTED LICENSING REVENUE NFLPA $7,157,187 $17,604,759 MLBPA $3,936,610 $74,826,917 NBPA $1,731,866 -0- AFL-CIO $62,839,305 not applicable QUOTES: Union finances specialist Gary Edwards: "Few people, if any, in the history of the union movement have earned the kind of money sports union leaders do." Teamsters President Ron Carey: "Even if I had four million members or 10 million members I personally could not accept a salary of $1 million or even close to it. ... But that's me. They may have different priorities and needs that I am not aware of." While several MLB players said they were not aware Fehr made that much, Fehr responded: "Everybody knows. It's in the reports." Upshaw, whose salary is decided by an executive council of current and former players: "I don't set my salary. If I did, I would have paid myself more because I'm worth more. It's about what you bring to the table. This union has brought peace to the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).
With the start of the World League of American Football season less than three weeks away, two teams "with high hopes" for success are the London Monarchs and the Scottish Claymores. Both have signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch for a total of 500,000 British Pounds (about $800,000). Although the six new teams will be made up mostly of U.S. players, the European teams "realize the value of home-grown talent in pleasing local crowds." The Claymores have signed seven Scots. Through Fox Sports, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is a partner with the NFL in the World League venture, and Murdoch's Sky Sports "plans to broadcast seven hours of live and recorded action from Monarchs and Claymores games in Europe each weekend." The Monarchs have hired McCann-Erickson to raise fan awareness with a promotional campaign. While the "rivalry may not come close to rugby's Calcutta Cup clashes between England and Scotland," the Claymores and Monarchs play in Edinburgh on May 7 (Stephen McGookin, FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/18-19 issue).