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MLB owners' labor negotiating committee will hold a conference call today. Rockies Owner Jerry McMorris said the committee will meet at the All-Star game next month, "then resume talks" with the players. McMorris, Red Sox CEO John Harrington and Royals CEO David Glass are expected to comprise the "bargaining team." McMorris said negotiations with players will resume "definitely in July" (AP/Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 6/30). Two pieces this morning examine baseball's low attendance and how the lack of a CBA is in some way responsible. Allan Barra, in the WALL STREET JOURNAL: "What is remarkable, however, is that attendance this year isn't lower than it is, given that another strike would render the games fans are watching now meaningless. And don't kid yourself: in the absence of a Basic Agreement between players and owners, a strike looms as a real possibility" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/30). In Philadelphia, Lynn Zinser writes, "No one is going to fully invest their emotions in baseball until they are reasonably sure they won't have the rug pulled out from under them. As it is, the next World Series seems as endangered as the last one" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/30).
The CFL and its Players Association announced yesterday that they have agreed on a one-year CBA. Details of the agreement were not released and are pending ratification of the union and CFL board. CFL Commissioner Larry Smith: "There haven't been many labor negotiations in sports recently that have been harmonious. We scored a touchdown." The league will apparently keep its requirement of 20 Canadian players on each Canadian team, with the U.S. teams continuing to have no quota (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/30).
"NBA owners will lock out their players at midnight tonight if they have neither ratified a new collective bargaining agreement approved by the owners nor ceased efforts to decertify the union and sue the league," according to sources cited by Lacy Banks in Chicago. The NBA declined to confirm or deny. A lockout "would constitute the first work stoppage in the 49-year history of the league." One GM "said the lockout could be the league's counterattack against the players for filing for decertification of their union and for filing the antitrust suit against the league" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/30). ALL THAT JAZZ: Jazz Owner Larry Miller told KISN-Radio in Salt Lake City that he believed there would be a lockout. Miller, whose comments were picked up by the wires and CNN and ESPN sports reports: "I really think that tomorrow at midnight we'll have our first work stoppage in the NBA, barring unforeseen development. If the players continue down their path, they are taking us exactly down the road baseball and hockey went down" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30). TALKS GO ON: NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBPA Exec Dir Simon Gourdine "met for four hours yesterday in New York in an effort to jump-start labor negotiations that ended last week when the players refused to ratify an agreement that included a rookie salary cap and luxury tax," according to Richard Justice in Washington. "Neither side would comment on the negotiations" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30). The owners' negotiating team gave the players "their latest contract proposal plus a request that the union cease decertification efforts and end an antitrust lawsuit that, owners feel, is interfering with negotiations," according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "We have not heard from the union leadership. And until we do, we feel it is inappropriate to comment" (Lacy Banks, CHICAGO SUN- TIMES, 6/30). Gourdine: "We agreed to get together in seven to 10 days" (USA TODAY, 6/30). STEP IN AND TAKE THE CHARGE? The NLRB yesterday "announced it was investigating whether the Federal lawsuit filed by seven dissident players against the NBA Wednesday was an attempt to circumvent the board's jurisdiction." Daniel Silverman, Dir of the NLRB's New York office: "This has to do with whether the NLRB should decide if the union is the bargaining representative or is it appropriate for that to be resolved in the District Court." Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney representing the suing players: "I don't think there's any dispute between us and the NLRB. We've explained to them in great detail what we were seeking in the antitrust court. ... In this case, the players are exercising both rights [labor and antitrust] that are independent but parallel." Silverman said he would decide in "a matter of days" whether or not to recommend to NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein that he seek authority to block the players' suit "as it relates to a league lockout." In addition, because union and league officials met yesterday, the dissident players filed an unfair labor practices charge against the league (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30). TV COVERAGE: ESPN's Keith Olbermann, on lockout talk: "The owners of the New Jersey Devils would be embarrassed by the timing of this" ("SportsCenter," 6/29). CNN's "Sports Tonight" led with the NBA labor story (CNN, 6/29).