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WSI News - News Watch

Labor talks resume on Thursday

January 2nd, from the Associated Press

Just six weeks before the start of spring training, baseball players resume their grievance Thursday to ensure the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos play this year.

Arbitrator Shyam Das, who presided over five days of testimony last month, will resume the hearing with management's cross-examination of union lawyer Michael Weiner, the second witness.

If that is completed Thursday, union head Donald Fehr might start his testimony in the case. Additional hearing dates have been scheduled for Friday and Jan. 10-11.

The feuding sides have tentatively agreed to start bargaining next week on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to replace the one that expired Nov. 7.

Weiner said the sides probably would discuss details Thursday, and that talks probably would take place next week on the days the grievance hearing is in recess.

Baseball has undergone eight work stoppages since 1972, but there is no indication owners intend to lock out players when spring training starts Feb. 15. Owners are scheduled to meet Jan. 16 and 17 in Phoenix.

At their executive board meeting last month, players said is much too early to consider a strike.

Commissioner Bud Selig's plan to eliminate two teams has been stalled by litigation. Owners voted Nov. 6 to fold two franchises, but a Minnesota judge issued an injunction 10 days later that forces the Twins to honor their lease at the Metrodome this season.

The appeal by baseball and the Twins was heard last Thursday, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals has not issued a decision. The losing side is expected to ask for a review by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and it's unclear if a final decision will be made before spring training.

The union's grievance claims the decision to eliminate teams violated terms of the expired collective bargaining agreement, which remains in force.

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