Baseball players showed no interest in owners' proposals for a luxury tax and vastly increased revenue sharing, offering a far different view Wednesday night of what the sport's labor contract should include.
In its first response to plans offered by management on Jan. 9 and Feb. 26, the union declined to accept the owners' luxury-tax proposal and made only a small change to its revenue-sharing system.
Instead, players proposed that teams be allowed to trade draft picks and that the richest and most successful clubs lose draft picks, which would be given to teams with the lowest revenue and poorest records.
"We appear to be as far apart today as we were yesterday," management negotiator Bob DuPuy said after the session in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Talks for a new collective bargaining agreement, which would replace the one that expired Nov. 7, recessed until after opening day on March 31.
"Our view is if they study it and think about it a little more, hopefully they won't view it that way," union head Donald Fehr said. "Obviously, there's a lot of negotiating which remains to be done."
Next week, players and owners will resume the hearing of the union's contraction grievance. Players claim the attempt to fold the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos violated the expired labor contract.
Neither side has threatened a work stoppage, which would be baseball's ninth since 1972, and the negotiators have been less acrimonious in their public comments than in the past. Still, the great gulf in the positions of the sides was clear.
Players have no interest in a luxury tax, which owners hope would slow the growth in salaries. Owners have asked for a 50 percent tax on the portions of payrolls above $98 million.
Owners also want to greatly increase the amount of shared locally generated revenue. Last year, $166 million was transferred from the teams with the highest revenue to the lower.
Management has proposed increasing the percentage of shared local revenue from 20 percent to 50 percent, with a $100 million fund available to the commissioner to disperse at his discretion.
The union remained at 22.5 percent, under a different formula a split pool rather than a straight pool in the language of the negotiators that would give more money to the teams with the lowest revenue and take less from the teams with the highest revenue. The players' proposal on a discretionary fund increased from $30 million to $40 million.
Owners say their plan would transfer $253 million, using last year's revenue figures, and that the union's would transfer $187 million.
"They did present a proposal that responded to many of the items in our Feb. 26 comprehensive proposal, not all," DuPuy said. "We will study what they presented, but we informed them that we were disappointed that on two elements we believe to be the most critical to beginning to restore competitive balance additional revenue sharing and a competitive-balance tax, they chose to make marginal movement on one and no movement on the other."