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Baseball Union to Penalize Replacement Player Agents

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The baseball players’ union said Monday it would penalize any agent who represents a replacement player.

“What level of penalty is up to the (executive board),” union lawyer Eugene Orza said. “Anything up to decertification is among the penalties at the board’s disposal.”

Orza said that several agents and players have notified the union that clubs have begun to call players seeking replacements if the union is still on strike when the spring camps open in mid-February.

“There has been no dissenting votes among the players and agents we’ve talked to regarding (potential penalties),” Orza said.

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Management’s recently formed operations committee has been shaping replacement rules in a series of conference calls and hopes to have the guidelines in place by the end of the week.

Several of the participating general managers, including Fred Claire of the Dodgers, will meet with management lawyers in Chicago today to continue the process.

In the meantime, management’s lead counsel, Chuck O’Connor, sent a letter to union leader Donald Fehr on Monday saying the clubs will resist any effort to have unsigned players declared free agents. The union notified the clubs last week that unsigned players, of which there are about 835, are entitled to free agency because the clubs illegally changed contract language and working conditions when they implemented the salary cap on Dec. 23.

“The clubs will resist your efforts to coerce them in their lawful execution of their statutory rights,” O’Connor wrote in his response.

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“The clubs are quite confident that their implementation of revised terms and conditions is entirely lawful. The legal grounds for that implementation, of course, include the union’s steadfast refusal to bargain collectively over wages in violation of. . . . the National Labor Relations Act.”


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