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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Talks Fizzle as Strike Date Approaches

NEW YORK -- Baseball's labor negotiations remain stalled as both sides acted as if no meaningful discussions will take place in time to prevent players from walking off the job after Thursday's games.


With the eighth work stoppage in 23 years closing in, representatives of the players and owners met for around 90 minutes Monday to discuss a host of non-economic issues, including matters such as grievance procedures and how to accrue service time in the pension plan. Nothing was settled, but then no one expected anything to be settled.


"Nobody is going to strike over any issue that was discussed today," said Richard Ravitch, chief negotiator for the owners.


Indeed, the two sides remain so far apart on the central issue -- a salary cap -- that Friday's strike seems inevitable. Barring a change of heart, the next full bargaining session will not occur until Wednesday -- less than 48 hours before the strike is to begin.


Union chief Donald Fehr was even uncertain about a Wednesday meeting. Fehr described his side as "resigned" to a strike, while Ravitch said he was "much less optimistic" than he had been.


"I assume there'll be a meeting if someone thinks there's something to talk about," Fehr said. "There's nothing scheduled. There's an air of inevitability about all of this, just as there was in 1981," when players went on strike for 50 days. "There's a feeling that we won't reach an agreement without a work stoppage. I hope that turns out to be wrong because there's still time. With each passing day, there's less time."


The argument has not changed. The owners want a ceiling on salaries -- a salary cap -- similar to the one National Football League players and owners now have, claiming it will allow small-market teams such as Pittsburgh and Milwaukee to survive.


The players say they will never accept a salary cap because it reduces salaries and their ability to move from team to team.


"This has the air of a dispute the owners are intent on forcing," Fehr said. "The players are resigned to it and ready to go. The nature of the questions we're getting is things like, 'Is it okay if I leave after the game Thursday to go home or should I wait for a flight Friday morning?'"