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CHICAGO STORY: MLB GOES MANO-A-MANO OVER LABOR DEAL
Published September 11, 1996
MLB's Executive Council will meet with its Labor Policy Committee today in Chicago to discuss what can be done to finalize a collective bargaining contract with the players union, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Haudricourt writes, "In essence, owners have put themselves in a trick box" as the two issues to be settled are service time and tax free years of a payroll luxury tax. Some owners are "against making either concession, but the tax issue is the potential deal-buster" as small market clubs "fear their current financial woes will resurface should the luxury tax be eliminated" after being in effect over a period of time. Haudricourt notes it will be up to the Executive Council to "decide what owners can and can't live with in a labor deal." But one management source "offered a somewhat somber forecast" when he said, "The only thing worse than no deal is a bad deal." USA TODAY's Hal Bodley calls the meeting, expected to last 5-6 hours, "a crucial step" toward completing a deal. Acting Commissioner Bud Selig "refused to speculate whether a consensus could be reached during the sessions -- or even if he would attempt to move the Executive Council toward one" (USA TODAY, 9/11). SET-UP MAN: In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt credits MLPBA Exec Dir Donald Fehr for doing "a masterful job of making it appear as if a deal is at hand" which has "set up owners to be the heavies" if a deal falls through. If owners want "major revisions" for a deal, it could put them "in a mess they have become familiar with in past labor battles: losing their negotiator." Speculation has management negotiator Randy Levine taking himself out of the process if instructed to do extensive reworking of a deal. Levine "declined to predict what would happen should owners draw a line in the sand" but added, "I think I've done the best I can do to this point." Haudricourt concludes small-market teams will determine the outcome of a deal and "it is believed most will cast their votes as (Acting Commissioner Bud) Selig casts his" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL,9/11).