- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Union head Donald Fehr made his most pointed criticism of the baseball owners' economic proposals, calling them "a wholesale attack on the salary structure."
In memos sent to players and agents, Fehr said management's revenue sharing and luxury tax plans would result in crippling losses for baseball's biggest spenders. The New York Yankees, who gave up $28million of their $242million revenue to other teams last year, would have to surrender $86.9million, Fehr said.
Meanwhile, 10 days before the strike deadline players set last week, negotiators met twice and discussed core economic issues, focusing on the luxury tax and revenue sharing. The sides did not provide details but planned to meet again today.
San Diego owner John Moores told the New York Times he would prefer a yearlong work stoppage to a bad deal and predicted as many as 10 other owners would support his position if players go on strike Aug.30.
"I think he's accurate on people who feel strongly that significant change needs to occur," Astros owner Drayton McLane told the Associated Press.
Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris said hard-liners had become more vehement in lobbying for their position and added, "The hawks are circling."
Nonetheless, the union strenuously opposes what owners have on the table.
In memos sent to players Saturday and to agents Monday, Fehr disclosed the amounts that would be transferred from baseball's wealthiest clubs to the others under management's revenue sharing and luxury tax proposals.
The New York Mets would give up the second most at $35.8million, followed by the Boston Red Sox ($34.2million) and the Seattle Mariners ($32.3million), according to his memos, which analyzed proposals using revenue and payroll figures from the 2001 season. Most of the money would be redistributed to low-revenue teams.
"The players have addressed what the clubs have said are their concerns in bargaining, but not what their revenue sharing and tax proposals reveal is their objective a wholesale attack on the salary structure," Fehr said in the memo, first revealed by Newsday and later obtained by the AP.
Rob Manfred, management's top labor lawyer, called it a "baffling characterization."
"Our purpose, in terms of the revenue sharing and the tax, is to take money, redistribute it among the clubs, place some sort of a speed bump on the very highest-payroll clubs," Manfred said.
Manfred said the owners' proposals were made to "reduce revenue disparity" and that they contained "a very, very limited form of payroll regulation designed to improve competitive balance."
Fehr wouldn't respond to Manfred's statements, saying only, "Rob knows better."
In his memos, Fehr said players agreed to raise the amount of money to be transferred in revenue sharing from $169million to $235million annually and said owners proposed $282million be transferred.
Owners have asked to tax the portions of payrolls over $102million and want a tax rate of 37.5 to 50 percent. They say the plans would increase competitive balance by decreasing the difference between the highest and lowest payrolls.
Players, not wanting to slow spending that much, have proposed thresholds of $130million to $150 million, with a tax rate of 15 to 30 percent.


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