Players' union begins talking of possible strike in August

Thursday, May 16, 2002

NEW YORK -- With no labor agreement in sight, some baseball players think it is inevitable that the union will set a strike date for August.

"That's really the only thing we can do," pitcher Mike Stanton, the New York Yankees player representative, said Wednesday. "It's not a situation where we have a lot of options."

Union officials told player agents at a meeting in New York on Tuesday that the staff is considering if and when to set a strike date, two agents said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Union head Donald Fehr, who told players during spring training to prepare for missing their last two or three paychecks, is to hold a similar meeting with West Coast agents in Los Angeles on Thursday.

For now, the union is trying to play down the possibility of a work stoppage, which would be baseball's ninth since 1972.

"The executive board has not yet considered whether to set a strike date," Fehr said. "We hope not to have to do so."

The consideration of a strike date, first reported Wednesday by The New York Times, is of little surprise. Players are unhappy that owners, in an effort to slow payroll growth, have proposed a 50 percent luxury tax on the portions of payrolls above $98 million. Management also angered players by asking to increase the percentage of locally generated revenue that teams must share from 20 percent to 50 percent, after a deduction for ballpark expenses.

Owners step up lobbying

WASHINGTON -- Major league baseball has increased spending on lobbying and political contributions as it seeks to block efforts in Congress aimed at stopping the sport from eliminating two teams.

The commissioner's office spent around $1.2 million on lobbying in 2001, more than double the year before, and established a political action committee last summer, when baseball was preparing its franchise-elimination plan.

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