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Talks Don't Address Economic Hurdles

August 18, 2002|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Baseball labor talks resumed the day after players set an Aug. 30 strike deadline, but negotiators did not address the major economic differences that could result in the sport's ninth work stoppage since 1972.

Representatives of owners and the Major League Baseball Players Assn. met for about three hours at the commissioner's office, discussing ancillary matters in an attempt to re-establish dialogue with the sides at opposite extremes on the issues of a payroll tax and revenue sharing. The groups will take today off and reconvene Monday, a management spokesman said.

Talks are stalled on the tax owners deem necessary to restrain player salaries. The union has agreed to the concept of a tax, but has proposed a much higher tax threshold and lower tax rate than owners will accept.

Meanwhile, Texas Ranger owner Tom Hicks, who gave shortstop Alex Rodriguez a record 10-year, $252-million contract, preached the need for fiscal responsibility.

"I think a majority of owners, including me, would probably like to have even stronger cost containment than we're talking about right now," Hicks told the Dallas Morning News. "We need to fix baseball and not just have another Band-Aid solution."

After the 1994 strike, owners and players agreed to a luxury tax for the 1997, '98 and '99 seasons. However, many owners considered the previous tax formula ineffective.

In this negotiation, management has proposed a tax of 37.5% to 50% on the portion of payrolls above $102 million. The union has offered a 15% to 30% tax to start on payrolls above $130 million.

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