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Archive for Friday, July 26, 2002

Owners’ lawyer optimistic

July 26, 2002

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— Baseball's top labor lawyer thinks there's a way to work out a new contract without another strike.

Sounding unusually optimistic, Rob Manfred said after Thursday's five-hour bargaining session that the sides will meet again today and probably will have sessions for five straight days starting Monday.

"I have said repeatedly, publicly, that I believe it is possible for us to reach a negotiated agreement without having an interruption of the season, and I still believe that," said Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations.

Players, fearful owners will change work rules after the season or lock them out, are threatening to strike in August or September, which would be baseball's ninth stoppage since 1972.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, concurred with Manfred that the sides had made progress on revenue sharing.

Union head Donald Fehr was traveling home from Montreal and hasn't been updated on the session. Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, wasn't as optimistic but did say the talks were "informative and enlightening" and that "we were able to narrow the focus of what we have to do."

"There are still substantial problems," he said. "I don't mean to sound pessimistic. I just don't think bells and whistles are in order."

He agreed with Manfred that an agreement was possible without a walkout.

"I don't think anyone's ever doubted that," Orza said. "I depends how much are people willing to recede from their positions."

The central issues are management's proposals to increase the amount of locally generated revenue each team shares from 20 percent to 50 percent, and to have a 50 percent luxury tax on the portions of payrolls above $98 million.

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