SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Labor Agents

Labor formalities tied to MLB talks falling into place

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has appointed Peter Donatello to monitor collective-bargaining negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association and to mediate if necessary.

At the same time, MLB has informed the federal agency that it intends to seek changes in the collective-bargaining agreement, which expires the day after the World Series ends.

Both steps are considered formalities under federal labor law. Once MLB filed its notice of intent to bargain, which protects both sides' rights to certain actions during negotiations, including striking or imposing a lockout, the FMCS assigned Donatello.

The notice must be served by at least one side at least 30 days before a collective-bargaining agreement expires. MLB informed the players union more than a month ago that it intended to seek changes in the labor agreement, another notice required under federal law.

MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr would not comment on whether formal negotiations had begun.

"I talk to Paul [Beeston, MLB chief operating officer] all the time, that's all I will tell you," Fehr said.

— Liz Mullen

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