Union and race track representatives met with a federal mediator here today, and when the talks concluded seven hours later, the representatives could not agree on whether progress had been made.
"We did some revising, some restructuring and I would say some progress was made although I wouldn't want to go into specifics," said Sander Wise, the legal counsel for Pimlico, Bowie and Laurel.
"I think he is being more optimistic than I am," countered AL Akman, president of Local 692, Retail Store Employee Union. "I think we moved sideways. Fringe benefits have always been at the heart of the problem. I don't think we can get the whole package we're seeking in our first contract, but we must get some kind of coverage."
The union reportedly has reduced its wage demand from $12.50 to $9.73 a day increase over a three-year contract. The tracks reportedly have increased or adjusted the benefits they are willing to give in a health and welfare plan.
The strike entered its 26th day today with mediator James Williams anticipating that both sides will be back at the bargaining table in the afternoon.
The track's latest money offer called for a $6.50 a day increase over three years.
"I'm less hopeful than I was before," commented Sendall Clagett, president of the Maryland horeseman, after hearing both sides' synopsis of today's meeting. Clagett said many large stables are preparing to leave Pimlico unless there is some guarantee of a settlement by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.