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Is No News Good News for Baseball Settlement?

September 12, 1996|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In what some baseball sources construed as a positive development in the long search for a labor agreement, the ruling executive council took no action Wednesday after a five-hour briefing on the status of talks by lead negotiator Randy Levine and the labor policy committee.

A positive development?

Levine was not ordered to withdraw from the talks or to restructure any part of the proposed agreement with the players union--an order that might have prompted him to resign. Sources said the council would probably meet again by Monday, possibly clearing Levine to complete the agreement next week.

"I believe a deal is going to be made," Levine said after detailing a history of the talks for the council, including documentation on how the labor policy committee has been appraised and how it has approved each of the major decisions in the proposed agreement and the consequences if it dissolves.

"We answered a lot of questions, clarified some misunderstandings," Levine said. "I was very encouraged."

Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said the process of educating owners on the proposed agreement will continue before negotiations resume.

He cited the "anger and resentment" owners expressed after learning the details of previous labor agreements only after those agreements were reached and said, "I'm merely trying to create a level of understanding so that won't happen again. When the deal is done, nobody is going to be able to say, 'Bud, why didn't you tell us this?' "

Levine and union leader Donald Fehr resolved many of the core economic issues during a flurry of meetings over a 48-hour period beginning Aug. 9 but have not met on a regular basis since.

Some owners have expressed opposition to restoring service time to the players for the 75 regular season days they were on strike and to giving the union a second, tax-free year at the end of what would be a six-year deal.

Selig said owners attending Wednesday's meeting expressed considerable differences over those issues and that he will be discussing resolution with Levine and the labor committee over the next few days.

Although some owners disagree, it is thought Selig has the 21 votes necessary to ratify an agreement.

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