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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Robothal: A-Rod case a window into future labor strife for MLB

You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the fillies.

While serious [Collective Bargaining Agreement] talks are likely more than two years away, sources say that the union already is preparing for management to pursue an aggressive, ambitious strategy… The players, to be sure, are more vulnerable than in the past — and both sides know it.

The union is under new, less experienced leadership. It seems willing to relent further on drug testing. It also is facing a management team that has set caps on domestic amateurs, international amateurs and the posting fees for Japanese players, gaining control over labor costs in virtually every area but the final frontier — major-league salaries… Now more than ever, they need to fight for due process and protect their rights…

The “injustice” of his suspension, [Alex] Rodriguez said, was “MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.’‘

Rodriguez’s concerns are extreme. The clubs might seek to convert guaranteed language to non-guaranteed in the contracts of players who are caught using PEDs, but they will never get away with abolishing guaranteed contracts. They also might seek harsher penalties than the current 50-100-lifetime formula for positive tests, but will never get away with lifetime bans for first-time offenders… The point is, there are battles ahead…

The union lost one of its greatest minds when its executive director, Michael Weiner, died of brain cancer on Nov. 21. Weiner’s replacement, Tony Clark, is the first former player to hold the position — a position once occupied by Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr.

Clark could prove a worthy successor — he is extremely intelligent, a natural leader. Kevin McGuiness, newly appointed as the union’s chief operating officer, is a 30-year veteran of the Washington D.C. lobbying scene, a “serious piece of manpower,” according to one player advocate. But few would dispute that the union, without Weiner, will be weaker initially.

Of course, the owners also will be under different leadership by the next round of labor negotiations — Commissioner Bud Selig has said he will retire when his contract expires in January 2015. The promotion of chief operating officer Rob Manfred, the owners’ longtime labor negotiator, might be the best hope for continuing the peace. A commissioner without Manfred’s background might be more inclined to flex his muscles, and what better way to do it than by taking on the union?

A storm is brewing, all right. And while it will have nothing to do with Rodriguez, it will center around two issues with which he is quite familiar.

Drugs. And money.

The District Attorney Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, ken rosenthal, labor, mlbpa, ped

 

 

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