Baseball players say talks futile, tell MLB to order return

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball players told Major League Baseball that additional early-season talks during the coronavirus pandemic are pointless and that owners should order a return to work, which is likely to result in lengthy litigation and the sport's return to labor warfare would lead.
The union's action on Saturday night could result in a season of around 50 games, instead of the 82 originally proposed by MLB. The Major League Baseball Players Association could then file a complaint heard by referee Mark Irvings. She argues that players will be owed hundreds of millions of dollars in damage due to a shorter season.
"Unfortunately, it seems that further dialogue with the league would be futile," union leader Tony Clark said in a statement. '' It's time to get back to work. Tell us when and where. ''
There was no immediate response from MLB.
While the NBA, NHL, and MLS have made arrangements to return to the coronavirus this summer, baseball has gotten into a violent industrial dispute that resulted in eight stoppages from 1972 to 1995. The union signed a collective agreement in late 2016, which resulted in relatively flat salaries for five consecutive years. An unsuccessful complaint accused the Chicago Cubs of manipulating third-base Kris Bryant's tenure to delay his eligibility for free agency, and a complaint accusing the teams of a process the union calls "refueling."
"Given your continued insistence on hundreds of millions of dollars in additional wage cuts, we expect these negotiations to be over," union chief negotiator Bruce Meyer wrote in a letter to Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem that The Associated had received on Saturday Press. '' If you intend to unilaterally impose a season, we ask you and our members again to let us and our members know how many games you want to play and when and where players should report. It is unfair to hang players and fans at this point, and another delay can endanger health and safety. We kindly ask you to inform us about your business by the close of business on Monday. ''
Players and MLB agreed on a deal on March 26 that included pro rata salaries. This deal included $ 170 million in salary advances and a service life guarantee for 2020 even when no games are played.
This deal gave baseball commissioner Rob Manfred the right to start the season provided there were no travel restrictions and games could be played in front of fans at the regular season baseball stadiums. It called for negotiations in good faith to play in empty stadiums or in neutral locations.
The players insist that they do not have to accept additional cuts.
"Player solidarity has never been more concentrated in recent years," said Scott Boras, baseball's best-known agent, who has three clients on the union's eight-member executive subcommittee.
MLB made three economic offers last Friday and the union proposed two. The Executive Subcommittee held a call on Saturday, followed by a larger group of around 100 players, including the entire Executive Committee and others.
The sites are far apart as to how much players should get from the $ 4 billion in salaries they were supposed to earn: MLB has offered to guarantee $ 1.27 billion and to raise the total to $ 1.45 billion if that Postseason is complete. Players want $ 2.25 billion.
'' Players want to play. It's who we are and what we do, ”Clark said. '' Since March, the association has made it clear that our main focus is on playing the best possible season as quickly and safely as possible. The players agreed billions of cash concessions to this end, and with repeated media leaks and misdirections, we made additional suggestions to bring new revenue to the industry - suggestions that would benefit owners, players, broadcast partners, and fans like. It has now become evident that these efforts have fallen on deaf ears. ''
The owners now have to decide whether they want to keep a shortened schedule of maybe 48 or 50 games. A regular season with 50 games and prorated salaries would total $ 1.23 billion, so the union could claim about $ 1 billion plus interest for damages if the case continues and the players win.
The parties' March agreement states: "Each of the parties is working in good faith to begin, play and complete the most economical feasibility and post-season 2020 as soon as possible, which is economically feasible in accordance with the other provisions. "
"In the past few days, owners have condemned the alleged unprofitability of owning a baseball team, and the commissioner has repeatedly threatened to plan a dramatically shortened season unless the players agree hundreds of millions more," Clark said. '' Our answer was consistent that such concessions are not justified, that players would be fundamentally unfair and that our sport deserves the fullest season of 2020. To date, this is our position, especially given new reports on MLB's national television rights - information that we requested from the league weeks ago but never provided. ''
The players 'financial accounts indicate that the teams' financial accounts do not reflect the income they receive from regional sports networks, real estate projects related to the development of baseball stadiums and such bottom-line businesses as selling shares in BAM Tech to The Walt Disney Co. and achieve the NHL.
The New York Post reported Saturday that MLB and Turner will enter into a rights agreement in 2022, the season after Turner's current League Championship Series contract and Sunday broadcast package expired in the second half of the season.
"We have fulfilled every obligation to discuss with you the economic feasibility of games without fans," wrote Meyer.
He accused Halem of sneaky union evasion tactics and said, "Your approach was one delay tactic after another."
Meyer criticized MLB's opening economic discussion on May 12, which claimed that the teams would lose $ 640,000 for each regular season game.
"Your own self-service presentation showed that the league as a whole will lose significantly less money in one season than in a season, and Rob admitted this in response to a direct question," wrote Halem. `` Regarding other claims in the presentation, we found them to be incomplete, unclear and unconvincing and requested information that would allow us to review them. Your eventual answer was completely inadequate. ''
MLB provided summaries of regional sports network agreements last month, but not the actual offerings.
"For example, we have never received unedited RSN and national TV contracts or sponsorship agreements, details of ongoing discussions with TV networks and sponsors, or forecasts about the value of expanded playoffs," wrote Meyer.
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