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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strike Negotiations Falter

NEW YORK -- Hopes of a settlement between major league baseball's players and owners before the union's Aug. 12 strike deadline dimmed after the latest round of talks. In fact, the situation has deteriorated so much that the players are considering striking earlier.

Union head Donald Fehr threatened a lawsuit on Wednesday over the owners' failure to pay about $7.8 million to the players' benefit plan on Aug. 1. He called the owners "silly," chided them for their "cavalier attitude" and labeled the pension decision "a cheap shot" that was "below the belt."

He said players might even consider striking earlier, but said there were no plans to reconvene the union's executive board which set the strike date last week.

Toronto Blue Jays player representative Paul Molitor told the Sports Fan Radio Network that the withheld payment could force the players' union to move up its Aug. 12 strike date.

President Clinton, at an evening news conference, said it would be "heartbreaking for the American people if our national pastime" does not complete a season during which many decades-old records, including most home runs in a season, could be broken.

Clinton said there may be some things that his administration can do to help, but that at this point "the situation is sufficiently delicate that I think we need to leave it at that." Labor Secretary Robert Reich held talks last week with representatives of both sides.

Molitor said the owners' withholding of the pension payment might help the players win public support. "We know the players face an uphill battle in convincing the public our actions are warranted, considering our salaries. Maybe with this decision by the owners, fans will understand what kind of people we're dealing with," Molitor said.

The sides spent little time discussing management's insistence on a salary limit, which Fehr said players will never accept. "There's a better chance of the United States returning to a monarchy," Tom Reich, an agent for many players, said at a news conference in Pittsburgh.

Another bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, when the union presents its economic analysis of revenue sharing. Fehr said it did not appear there was a way to avoid the sport's eighth work stoppage in 22 years.

Management negotiator Richard Ravitch insisted that owners would never accept an agreement that does not give them cost certainty. "We have a right, a fundamental right, to bargain for our cost of labor," he said.

Players believe a salary limit would slow the increase in salaries and Fehr says they will strike "as long as it takes" to defeat management's plan and maintain a free market.

Executive council chairman Bud Selig and Ravitch say 19 clubs project they will lose money this year. The Los Angeles Times, quoting a lawyer close to the talks, reported Wednesday that two of the clubs are the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Fehr said owners will not release the list of projected money losers because they fear public reaction. (AP, Reuters)