Talk of a New Proposal Appears to Lead to Another Dead End : Baseball: Montgomery, Myers say Ravitch offered one. Union says no and, for once, Selig agrees.
Baseball’s labor negotiations took a bizarre twist Monday night when officials of the players’ union denied player reports that owners’ negotiator Richard Ravitch has promised a new proposal Friday if the players don’t hold to their strike deadline of that day.
Randy Myers, the Chicago Cubs player representative, said in a radio interview that union officials told him Ravitch made that offer during their negotiations Monday, but that the union regarded it as simply another ploy.
Jeff Montgomery, the Kansas City player representative, supported Myers’ statement at Anaheim Stadium on Monday night and said the player representatives had been told about the Ravitch offer in a conference call with the union.
However, Gene Orza, the union’s associate general counsel, said from New York that there was no conference call with the players and no such offer from Ravitch.
“It’s absolutely not true, strictly a rumor,” Orza said, “and we’re not going to change the strike date just because someone says they have a new proposal, which to our knowledge no one said. A new proposal could be worse than this one.”
Bud Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and interim commissioner of baseball, also denied there was a new proposal.
“There’s nothing to it,” he said Monday night. “I’ve been getting a few calls about it tonight, but there’s nothing to it.”
Ravitch could not be reached Monday night. He had earlier agreed with Don Fehr, the union’s executive director, that there was no progress during Monday’s negotiations on the non-economic issues in baseball’s bargaining agreement and no hint of a compromise on the major issue of a salary cap. Fehr and Ravitch said the likelihood of a strike beginning on Friday loomed even larger.
“We’re talking apples and oranges,” Ravitch said in reference to the ideological differences over the economic state of the game and alleged need for a salary cap, which is the centerpiece of the owners’ attempt to overhaul the compensation system.
Negotiations on the cap--opposed by the players’ union--will resume Wednesday. Fehr said he was resigned to baseball’s eighth work stoppage in 22 years, again blamed the owners and said he has been unable to convince Ravitch that the union will never accept a salary cap.
Said Ravitch: “I don’t want to spark any unrealistic optimism, but when you’re in a situation like this, I wouldn’t dare predict what’s going to happen between now and Friday. That doesn’t mean I think the fairy godmother will descend with a solution.”
Earlier Monday, Ravitch had said he had no plans to put another proposal on the table. The owners’ proposal calls for a 50-50 split with the players of all revenue generated by both sides--58% of the owners’ 1994 revenue would go to salaries--along with the elimination of salary arbitration and reduction of free agency eligibility from six years of major league service to four, with a player’s current club having the right to match his best offer. It would be phased in over four years.
“We remain flexible,” Ravitch said. “We asked them, ‘is the percentage too low? Is the transition period too short?’ We’ve heard no response and we need a response. We can’t negotiate with ourselves. As long as (Fehr) says no, the owners do not intend to change their position.”