The Major League Baseball Players Association has started communicating directly with all 26 major league clubs in addition to the bargaining committee that represents them. Officials of the San Diego Padres, Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles confirmed last night that they had received telexed copies of a proposal made by the players association during negotiations on Tuesday.
The development came on the 41st day of the strike, which saw several unusual departures in the negotiations.
For the first time since the strike began, and the first time since 1976, the board of directors of the Player Relations Committee, which makes policy decisions for the owners, met with the players' bargaining unit yesterday at the request of Secretary of Labor Raymond J. Donovan.
The surprise meeting, which lasted 1 1/2 hours, took place at the Office of Personnel Management, six blocks from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, after negotiations had recessed.
Negotiations will be resumed there today at 9:30 a.m.
Hank Peters, general manager of the Orioles, said the club had received the telex yesterday afternoon "with a proposal they said they had presented." Peters said he could not recall ever having received such a communication from the union before.
Asked if he thought it woud be viewed as a significant departure in the talks, he said, "I would assume you would have to view it that way."
Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, has often said during the course of the strike that the 26 clubs do not receive complete or accurate information from their bargaining committee about the state of the talks and the players' positions in them. There was some speculation that this feeling was the reason for the communications.
The players proposed a modification of their pooled compensation idea in which:
Nine teams would contribute players to the pool in 1981, nine in 1982 and the remaining eight in 1983. The teams each year would be selected by lottery. Previously, the players had proposed that each team bidding on a free agent place a player in the pool.
No team could lose more than one free agent every three years.
The teams placing players in the pool could protect 24 players in its major league system. Previously, the players had allowed only some teams to protect 24, while others could have protected 36.
The proposal received by the clubs was not made public because of the news blackout. Marvin Miller, executive director of the players association, said, "We have no comment. Maybe tomorrow."
It is not known what the owners' immediate reaction to the proposal was, although one source not directly involved in the talks said the owners intended to make a counterproposal yesterday. As of early yesterday, the source said, they had not decided whether to accept the pool with some modifications or reject it and offer something involving direct compensation.
"But," he continued, "they're feeling very strong. They know they have the votes. . . I've done a head count and the majority of owners are still behind the PRC. There's eight against and maybe three wavering against 15."
The board of directors of the Player Relations Committee, which now includes one owner -- Dan Galbreath of the Pirates -- and five other top club officials, had not met previously with the players' bargaining committee since the spring of 1976, according to Fehr.
The afternoon meeting at the Office of Personnel Management, during which the players and the PRC met face to face, came after five hours of negotiations during which the parties did not meet across the table. Donovan, who will return to the talks today, was present at the meeting along with Federal Mediator Kenneth E. Moffett.
The eight-member executive council, also in Washington, reportedly met last night with the PRC and Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. None could be reached for comment.