Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
Out of work
Baseball umpires called 'out' in settlement with MLB
Posted: Thursday September 02, 1999 12:02 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- For 22 umpires, baseball's final message to them Wednesday was: "Yer out!"
Baseball and umpires reached a deal Wednesday night in which the 22 umps will lose their jobs and the union will withdraw its lawsuit in exchange for $1.36 million in postseason bonus payments, full pay and benefits for the rest of the season, and management's acceptance of arbitration in the dispute.
"We think that it's a shame for baseball," said umpires union head Richie Phillips. "Baseball will suffer from the loss of these enormously talented people that the commissioner's office has arbitrarily determined to hurt." Union head Richie Phillips said.
American League umpire Mark Johnson had tears in his eyes as he walked out of the courtroom of U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner, who had mediated the deal.
Richie Garcia, one of the game's most respected umpires who also will lose his job, said the union did not consult with the rest of the affected umps about the deal.
"Unfortunately, there wasn't any time. The lawyers come in, say this is what they've got. You have 15 minutes to decide," the AL umpire said.
Joyner had imposed a gag order on the lawyers involved in the negotiations, but the terms were confirmed by two officials in baseball who were not at the talks and spoke on the condition they not be identified. Both officials were updated repeatedly from the talks throughout the day.
The union conceded that the 22 umps, whose resignations were accepted by the American and National leagues last month, have umpired their final games.
In management's view, their departures are permanent. In the union's view, they'll only be gone until an arbitrator orders them rehired with back pay.
Normally, the arbitration process takes several months at a minimum, meaning there's no way the 22 will be back this year.
The postseason money was a key issue for the umpires. Under their labor agreement, each umpire gets an annual $20,000 postseason bonus, whether they work postseason games or not. Multiplied by 68 major league umpires, it would come to $1.36 million -- money the union could divide as it pleased.
Umpires sued Monday, hoping to get an injunction that would keep the 22 at work. Curtis scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, but instead pushed the sides to work out a compromise. After seven hours of discussions, the talks resumed Wednesday.
As part of the deal, the umpires' union withdrew its unfair labor practice charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
The deal means nearly one-third of the 68 permanent major league umpires will be out of work as of 6 a.m. EDT Thursday. Also among them are NL crew chiefs Frank Pulli and Terry Tata; the NL's Eric Gregg, known for his 300-pound-plus frame; and Joe West, disliked by some players for his aggressive and sometimes combative attitude.
In the eyes of many in baseball, the umpires brought this upon themselves. On July 14, the union announced 57 umps were quitting, effective Sept. 2. They said then they feared a lockout and wanted to spark an early start to negotiations for a labor contract to replace the one that expires Dec. 31.
But the plan collapsed when 27 umps, mostly in the AL, either failed to resign or quickly rescinded their resignations. Baseball then hired 25 umps from the minor leagues and accepted 22 resignations.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.