Home Sports MLBPA rejects MLB's offer for federal mediator to enter labor negotiations during lockout – ESPN

MLBPA rejects MLB's offer for federal mediator to enter labor negotiations during lockout – ESPN

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MLBPA rejects MLB's offer for federal mediator to enter labor negotiations during lockout – ESPN

Tony and Michael discuss how the extended MLB lockout could potentially delay the start of the MLB season. (2:22)
While Major League Baseball continues to insist that federal mediation is the best route to “break the deadlock,” the MLB Players Association on Friday rejected MLB’s request for a mediator to negotiate between the parties for a new collective bargaining agreement.
“Two months after implementing their lockout, and just two days after committing to Players that a counterproposal would be made, the owners refused to make a counter, and instead requested mediation,” the MLBPA said in a statement. “After consultation with our Executive Board, and taking into account a variety of factors, we have declined this request.”
The move pretty much eliminates any chance for an on-time start to spring training, unless the owners lift the lockout and the sides continue to negotiate for a new agreement while camps commence. Some in the industry, on both the league and player sides, fear that the March 31 date for Opening Day could also be at risk if no resolution is reached by the end of February.
“Our goal is to have players on the field and fans in the ballparks for spring training and Opening Day,” MLB said in its statement Friday. “With camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks, it is time to get immediate assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help us work through our differences and break the deadlock. It is clear the most productive path forward would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge gaps and facilitate an agreement.
“It is hard to understand why a party that wants to make an agreement would reject mediation from the federal agency specifically tasked with resolving these disputes, including many successes in professional sports. MLB remains committed to offering solutions at the table and reaching a fair agreement for both sides.”
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the union’s executive subcommittee, took to social media to say mediation isn’t needed “because what we are offering to MLB is fair for both sides.”
We don’t need mediation because what we are offering to MLB is fair for both sides:
We want a system where threshold and penalties don’t function as caps, allows younger players to realize more of their market value, makes service time manipulation a thing of the past, and eliminate tanking as a winning strategy.
The league believes it committed to responding to the MLBPA but not necessarily to making a counterproposal, sources familiar with the talks told ESPN. In an effort to help resolve the sport’s lockout, Major League Baseball on Thursday requested the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a governmental agency that attempts to help resolve labor disputes, sources told ESPN.
The request was made to potentially insert the presence of a neutral party to end a work stoppage now in its third month. Mediation is not mandatory, and the MLBPA needed to agree to the involvement of a third party.
“We don’t think it speeds up the process at all,” MLBPA executive board member Andrew Miller said via text. “History tells us in our sport, it hasn’t been favorable to reaching a deal. … Our position is that it is quite the opposite from negotiating and being ready to negotiate.”
MLB locked out players on Dec. 2 after the sides could not reach an agreement on a new CBA. Since then, the sides have met four times. None of the sessions has provided significant traction toward a new CBA after more than a quarter-century of labor peace.
Mediation, a process by which an outside party intervenes during labor strife, has been commonplace throughout the history of sports labor relations. The role of mediators is more to bridge communication issues between sides and help find middle ground than to offer mandates or implement solutions. The process was used during MLBPA strikes in 1981 and 1994 — the latter of which did not wind up with a resolution.
The issues at hand mostly revolve around the game’s core economics. The players, disgruntled because their average salaries have dropped for four consecutive seasons, have said their largest priorities are getting players paid at earlier ages; removing artificial restraints from the market, such as draft-pick penalties for signing free agents and draft-pick penalties for exceeding the luxury tax; fixing service-time manipulation; and disincentivizing tanking. The league, which wants to keep player salaries flat, has sought expanded playoffs and the preservation of current rules governing free agency, arbitration and revenue sharing.
There have been areas of progress. The league agreed to remove direct draft-pick compensation and offered a universal designated hitter. The union said it would expand the postseason to 12 teams, short of the 14 MLB is seeking, and proposed allowing advertising patches on uniforms. Both sides are open to a draft lottery, with MLB proposing non-playoff teams be eligible for the top three picks and the union countering with the top eight picks being part of the system. MLB agreed to consider a bonus pool for non-arbitration-eligible players that would be for $10 million. The union, in its latest proposal Tuesday, countered at $100 million, down $5 million from its previous offer.
“The clearest path to a fair and timely agreement is to get back to the table,” the MLBPA said in its statement Friday. “Players stand ready to negotiate.”
ESPN’s Jeff Passan contributed to this report.

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