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Baseball labor deal is reached

Five-year agreement comes without the acrimony of previous ones and has few major changes.

October 25, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players' Assn. announced Tuesday night that they had reached accord on a five-year collective bargaining agreement that will run through 2011, with few major alterations to the current agreement.

The five-year agreement, completed seven months after negotiations began, is the longest in baseball history. By its end, 16 years will have passed without a work stoppage.

"It gives us the opportunity to continue to grow the game in all ways and continue the golden age of our great sport," Commissioner Bud Selig said at a Busch Stadium news conference.

Among the changes:

* The Joint Drug Agreement, the three-strikes-and-you're-out policy that was to run through 2008, was extended to 2011. Both sides said they would consider adding testing for human growth hormone, if a urine test is found.

* Luxury-tax thresholds, which primarily affect the New York Yankees, will increase to $178 million by 2011. The Yankees were well over that this season.

* Teams that fail to sign their first- or second-round draft picks will receive the same pick in the next draft.

* For purposes of draft-choice compensation, type-A free agents are now defined as the top 20% at each position, rather than top 30%. Some compensation is eliminated.

* Players traded in the midst of a multiyear contract lose the right to demand a trade. Players currently under multiyear deals retain those rights.

* The major league minimum salary increases to $400,000 by 2009.

Angels owner Arte Moreno served on the labor committee. He was not on the negotiating team.

"The positive thing is we've reached a point where we have a true partnership with the players' association," Moreno said. "I think everybody's happy. I don't think any deal is 100% perfect. But I think there's a balance."

The recent negotiations were notable for their apparent lack of rancor and for being completed nearly two months before the expiration of the current contract.

Baseball's four-decade labor history, since Marvin Miller became the first true players' union leader, is one of acrimony and work stoppages. Lockouts and strikes marred every negotiation from 1972 until 2002, the latter after a deadline extension, and even then, in August 2002, the players were hours from striking.

In 1994, the players struck from Aug. 12 to April 2, 1995, wiping out the World Series, all of spring training and resulting in a 144-game 1995 season. There have been eight work stoppages in all.

Three consecutive seasons of record attendance, estimates of $5.2 billion in annual total revenue, broadening revenue streams and an established drug program provided a hopeful tenor to the negotiations, probably the last between Selig and union chief Don Fehr.

tim.brown@latimes.com

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