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Players Set August 30 Strike Date

Aired August 16, 2002 - 13:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A developing story in Major League Baseball now. Weeks of threats and days of intense labor talks have failed to resolve differences between players and owners. CNN has learned that the players have set an August 30 strike date, setting the stage for a repeat of the disastrous 1994 strike.
Josie Karp with CNN Sports joins us now from New York.

Hi there -- Josie.

JOSIE KARP, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka.

This is actually something, the setting of a strike date that a lot of people thought was going to take place on Monday, when they had an executive board meeting of the union in Chicago. The players came in that face-to-face with union executives, but at that point, they decided to delay things at least for three days. And that's what brought us here to Friday and a conference call that was held this morning of the executive board of the union.

And it was during that conference call, which lasted less than an hour-and-a-half, that the decision was made. There were actually some players from the Los Angeles Dodgers who attended the conference call here at Major League Baseball Players Association headquarters.

On Monday, when the players decided to postpone setting a date, they said they were doing so, because they had hoped the progress that had been started would continue. And I can just tell you, over the last three days, that progress has really come to a grinding halt.

The two sides met on Tuesday, made a little bit of progress. But the day when things sort of went south was Wednesday, when each side exchanged proposals on the luxury tax. And that's something that people thought was going to be a barrier between owners and players, and it certainly worked out that way.

According to the lead negotiator for the owners, Wednesday, when those luxury tax proposals were exchanged, was a bump in the road. According to a union source, it was substantially more than that. He says right now, the luxury tax is the real problem right here.

I can give you a little bit of an update in terms of what we're going to see, at least for the rest of the day. The union is expected to release a statement sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 Eastern, outlining the decision that has been made. And there is also a press conference scheduled over at Major League Baseball headquarters. It's still unclear at that time exactly who will be representing ownership at that time.

But certainly, what had been a very cordial mood that had been established between owners and players during this negotiation, unlike negotiations in the past, might be headed for a big change -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Well, Josie, is there a real breaking point for the players in which they would say, OK, not only have we set this date now, but now we're actually going to carry out this strike?

KARP: Well, clearly, there has to be progress made on this one issue that's holding up both sides, the issue of a luxury tax. And right now, from reports that we have heard, is originally the owners started out saying they wanted a tax on any payroll over $98 million. They would tax every dollar over $98 million at 50 percent. And the owners have said, they won't enter into any agreement that doesn't include some form a luxury tax or a payroll tax. They have moved a little bit on their number.

But in terms of the players, they don't want any luxury tax that acts like a salary cap. And so, the number that they have come in with, in terms of the threshold over which they might accept some sort of taxes, a lot higher than the owners.

So that's the one issue that both sides are going to be looking toward right now over the next two weeks to try to find some sort of common ground. If they can, maybe they can avert a strike for first time in three decades of collective bargaining. If they can't, then we're headed for a ninth work stoppage -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. A lot of work over the next couple of weeks then. Thanks very much, Josie Karp.

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