The deal ends a labor dispute that began when owners voted on Dec. 7, 1992, to exercise their option to terminate the previous labor deal one year early and reopen collective bargaining. They would go on to formulate a revenue sharing/salary cap plan that was rejected by the players union, with The resulting stalemate leading to the strike that wiped out the final two months of the 1994 season and the World Series.
The strike also shortened the 1995 season by 18 games and alienated baseball fans so much that attendance dropped by 20 percent during the 1995 season and recovered only slightly, with a 6 percent increase, in 1996.
The labor dispute appeared to be over in October, when ownership negotiator Randy Levine and Fehr reached a tentative agreement during the World Series, but Selig quietly withdrew his support for the finished product and allowed it to be voted down.
The owners voted that day to go back to the union for more concessions, but union officials rebuffed their attempt to reopen negotiations, leaving the owners with two choices: They could rethink their Nov. 6 vote, or give up on interleague play and look ahead to another year of labor unrest.
"I think there was the realization that we couldn't change the deal," said Philadelphia Phillies owner Bill Giles, "and there was the fact that Bud Selig supported the deal today."
Selig, also owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, got credit from all quarters for the decision to declare labor peace. He had left the owners to make their own decision three weeks ago, but actively endorsed the deal this time.
"He was very articulate," said Levine, who nearly resigned after the deal was rejected on Nov. 6. "He laid out the whole case."
Now that he has presided over the end of the labor battle, Selig may soon initiate the search for his own replacement. The owners have stated throughout the labor dispute that they would begin the search for a permanent commissioner after a new labor deal was in place.
Pub Date: 11/27/96