WASHINGTON -- The labor dispute between Major League Baseball and the Major League Umpires Association remained unresolved yesterday, which means that amateur umpires probably will staff today's season opener between the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox at Memorial Stadium.
The umpires walked out on the final two days of exhibition games after negotiations on a new labor agreement ground to ' 'TC halt. Union director Richie Phillips says the owners are preparing for a lockout. MLB negotiator Richard Kheel is calling it a strike by the umpires.
According to The New York Times, negotiators for both sides resumed meeting yesterday at about 4 p.m. There was no word on whether they had made progress.
American League spokeswoman Phyllis Merhige said that the leagues have put a pre-arranged contingency plan into effect and -- if no last-minute settlement is reached -- that alternate umpires will staff today's season openers. The names of those umpires will not be released until today.
"The major-league umpires will picket Shea Stadium, Riverfront Stadium and Arlington Stadium on Opening Day," Phillips said in a statement released yesterday afternoon. "The association has been joined by leaders of the labor movement in communicating a request to the White House that President Bush honor the umpires' picket lines."
Bush is planning to attend the Milwaukee-at-Texas opener tonight. Bush's son is the principal owner of the Rangers.
Phillips will be at Shea Stadium for the Philadelphia-at-New York opener. He said umpires will conduct informational picketing in Chicago, Atlanta and San Diego tomorrow but will not try to disrupt games or prevent fans from attending.