Robert Kheel, lead negotiator for MLB in its labor dispute
with locked out umpires, said there must be a settlement within
"the next couple days" for the umpires to be ready for Opening
Day. The MLBUA delivered a new proposal on Monday, but Kheel
said there were no talks yesterday. Kheel: "We're substantially
apart still" (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/19). MLBUA General
Counsel Richie Phillips made an offer that the umpires would
return to work if the owners agreed to continue negotiations
until a new CBA is reached. Phillips "said he has been assured
there will be support from players and that President Clinton
will not cross picket lines to throw out the first pitch opening
day." But White House spokesperson Ginny Terzano said no
decision has been made. MLB spokesperson Rich Levin: "As far as
I know, the president has not been invited to attend any of the
openers" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 4/19).
FEHR SOFTENS COLLUSION TALK: MLBPA Exec Dir Don Fehr
"downplayed" comments he made regarding a union investigation of
collusion among owners on players' salaries this spring. Fehr
said the union "always reviews" for possible collusion, but that
they have no specific evidence relating to this spring (Mark
Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 4/19).
NBA players "were portrayed yesterday as being outraged that
they have not been informed of the reasons behind the abrupt
resignation" of NBPA Exec Dir Charles Grantham, writes Murray
Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. "Some players, according to their
agents, believe the union is engaged in a cover-up of the real
reasons" for Grantham's departure. A joint release from the
union and Grantham on Friday cited only "irreconcilable
differences," and as of yesterday players still had not been
informed what that meant. In an interview, Grantham denied all
rumors: "How many organizations have you seen change
leaderships? It's never one thing; it's a series of several
things. Leadership wanted to go in one direction, I in another.
There was disagreement. I chose to resign." Simon Gourdine, the
NBPA's General Counsel and a former Deputy Commissioner of the
NBA, has taken over as Exec Dir. While one agent says that "no
one expects Simon to be the one negotiating with David Stern,"
Chass floats a "bizarre" scenario by which Richard Ravitch,
former negotiator for MLB's owners, would take over the NBPA's
negotiations. Ravitch headed New York's Metropolitan Transit
Authority when Gourdine was counsel there. In addition, labor
lawyers and agents both raised concerns that a financial
settlement was reached with Grantham without a vote of player
reps, and that Gourdine assumed the Exec Dir position without a
vote of the Executive Board (N.Y. TIMES, 4/19).
MORE DIGGING: Jackie MacMullan reports that Grantham was
"forced out because of alleged improprieties involving expense
accounts." One player rep: "It had nothing to do with
collective bargaining" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/18).