Shapiro critical of umps' Phillips

Union head unlikely to retain his job, potential rival says

July 31, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

PHILADELPHIA -- Ron Shapiro, a player agent who is supported by several umpires to replace Richie Phillips as their negotiator, says Phillips' days as head of the union are numbered.

The Baltimore-based Shapiro said the union's labor strategy that cost 22 major-league baseball umpires their jobs also will cost Phillips his.

"I don't see how Richie can last," Shapiro, who represents Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken, told Bloomberg News. "This plan was one of the worst in the history of labor negotiations."

Phillips couldn't be reached to comment.

Umpires said almost a third of their 66 unionized members favor replacing the confrontational Phillips with the more diplomatic Shapiro.

Support for Phillips will erode further on Sept. 2 when 25 minor-league umpires take positions from many veterans supportive of Phillips, Shapiro said.

"What Richie has done doesn't make sense to me or any labor attorney I've spoken with, and it's certainly not going to make a lot of sense to a new guy coming in who looks at people losing their jobs for no reason," said Shapiro, who was in Philadelphia promoting his book about negotiating strategies, "The Power of Nice."

At least 14 umpires supported Shapiro in an effort to oust Phillips during spring training. Phillips won out and signed a five-year agreement.

Shapiro said he isn't lobbying for Phillips' job, although he talks to umpires involved in the dispute informally.

He has said he would consider taking a more prominent role if a majority of umpires supported him.

Pub Date: 7/31/99

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