The Issue: Compensation
In the collective bargaining agreement in effect last season, a player with six years' experience could become a free agent at the end of his contract. As many as 13 teams could select him in a free-agent draft, and the team losing him would receive a choice in the amateur draft as compensaiton. In last year's contract settlement, the compensation issue was shelved with the understanding that if an agreement could not be reached this year, the owners' last compensation plan would be written into the contract. Players, having never agreed to the compensation plan, had the right to strike before the date it became effective. That date, June 1, was pushed back by both sides while the National Labor Relations Board petitioned a federal court for an injunction to put the issue in limbo until next spring. When U.S. District Court Judge Henry F. Werker refused to grant an injunction Wednesday, the players had to strike within 48 hours or forfeit that right. They struck yesterday. The Owners' Stance
The owners say a team losing a free agent deserves a replacement. Under the plan implemented into the collective bargaining agreement, the 50 percent of major league players would be considered "ranking" and their teams would be compensated. Players' rankings would be determined using quantitative statistical criteria. The players say the owners' subsequent proposals have been variations of this theme. In Thursday's proposal, the owners offered to change their formula to include only players in the top 40 percent. But the players said a team signing a free agent in the top 33 percent would still have to give up its 16th player, and a team signing a free agent in the 34th to 40th percentilies would have to give up its 19th. The Players' Stance
The players say the owners' proposal will stifle free-agent movement. The players have proposed that teams create a compensation pool. Each team selecting a ranking free agent would put four players into the pool, from which a team losing a free agent could select a replacement. The players also proposed that these players be chosen from the 40-man roster, or protected list, not the 25-man roster in effect most of the season. What Separates the Sides
Two points must be settled. The owners say they cannot accept a pool arrangement requiring teams not signing free agents to contribute. Owners also want the players chosen from the 25-man roster. The Outlook
Next bargaining session will be Monday or Tuesday at the earliest, according to federal mediator Ken Moffett.