The baseball owners' chief bargainer hinted today that management negotiators would not welcome intervention by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth in labor talks with the players' union.
"We would frankly prefer to be able to work out things between us, assuming that they can be worked out," said Lee MacPhail, president of the owners' Player Relations Committee.
Ueberroth, during opening remarks at the induction ceremonies at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., today, vowed that he "will not allow our negotiations to fail" in trying to reach a settlement before the Aug. 6 strike deadline by players. "I will take all appropriate action to reaching a successsful conclusion in negotiations," Ueberroth said. He did not elaborate on what action he would take.
But in an interview in the upcoming issue of Newsweek magazine, Ueberroth said he will have met with the owners and the players by Tuesday or Wednesday, by which time he would have "told them what the appropriate action will be."
MacPhail's comment came after a three-hour meeting with the union at which the two sides once again took up some of the minor issues in an effort to clear the decks for discussions of more important items.
Last week, the two sides came to agreement on about 20 such issues, and MacPhail said that perhaps a dozen other smaller items would remain to be settled when negotiations continued Monday afternoon.
Asked if he was saying the PRC did not want the commissioner to take part in negotiations at all, MacPhail replied: "I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that we would prefer to work things out between the two parties if it's possible to work them out between the two parties."
"The commissioner has his responsibility. We have our responsibilities. Mine are to the clubs, and I'll try to accomplish something for the clubs that we think is necessary for the health and viability of the game," MacPhail said. "He (Ueberroth) has his own responsibilities to the fans, to the public. What he does, I don't know, but he'll do it independently of whatever we're doing."