Baseball owners had a cool initial reaction to the players' new proposal Saturday, leaving little hope for an agreement that would stop owners from imposing a salary cap next week.
The plan players presented calls for a payroll tax on all 28 teams - it would have been 5.02 percent in 1994 - that would raise $35 million a year for owners to redistribute to small-market teams. Management's last proposal, made Nov. 17, asked for an escalating tax on abover-average payrolls that would have peaked at 77 percent last season.Management negotiator John Harrington didn't give a detailed response but said owners insisted on a collective bargaining agreement with cost certainty, one that would lower that players' share of revenue from 58 percent to 50 percent and remedy payroll disparity between large- and small-market teams.
Owners said they would review the proposal overnight, and the sides were expect to meet again today.
"We assume the players understand that deadlines are upon us in order to begin the 1995 season on time," Harrington said.
Owners already have scheduled a meeting for Chicago on Thursday and are expected to impose the cap then. Union officials, accompanied by 16 players, said they hoped owners would accept their framework but acknowledged privately that was unlikely to happen.
"Our proposal will create an atmosphere of mutual respect and may help to end the cycle of labor strife that has characterized this sport," the union said in a statement read by Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine. "The burden is now on the owners to demonstrate their willingness to enter a new era by forging a real partnership to pursue common goals for the good of the game."
Players proposed to contribute $30 million to an industry growth fund, taking the money either from licensing revenue or union dues. Owners would match the $30 million with money from future expansion fees.
"For the first time in baseball history - indeed in the history of professional sports - the players are offering to invest their own money to ensure future growth of the game," Glavine said.
Owners and mediator W.J. Usery asked players not to release their plan, but union head Donald Fehr said many players not in the union's leadership wanted to know details.