NEW YORK -- Union and management officials held discussions for a couple of hours yesterday, but the only progress they made toward an end to baseball's labor dispute was a schedule for next week's negotiations.
The talks will resume with a bargaining session on "noneconomic" issues Monday, followed by a series of work-group sessions Tuesday and a full-blown negotiating session on the major collective issues Wednesday.
The meeting yesterday was a continuation of a meeting late Thursday afternoon in which the Major League Baseball Players Association presented the owners with a set of revenue-sharing concepts. Neither side, however, reported any movement toward a settlement.
If there is a surprising development, it is that the next full-scale meeting will not occur until Wednesday, which is just two days before the Aug. 12 strike deadline imposed by the players last week. That all but confirms that the players will go out, but that already had become apparent by the lack of substantive negotiations during the past several days.
The meeting Monday apparently will deal with lesser issues relating to working conditions, but there is nothing keeping union director Donald Fehr or management negotiator Richard Ravitch from backing away from the rigid positions that have frozen the negotiations.
The owners appear determined to reconstruct the player compensation system, and the players appear equally determined to keep the current system intact. If there is a way out of this all-or-nothing showdown, it has not become apparent in the weeks since the owners unveiled their salary cap proposal.
Ownership sources say that they are willing to make concessions in other areas that would make Fehr "look like a winner" if he would agree to negotiate a salary cap. Union officials say they also are trying to find an escape route for Ravitch, who appears to have negotiated himself into a corner.