Richie Phillips got a blunt message yesterday: It's time to go.
Phillips and the Major League Umpires Association, trying to hold on to power, lost their appeal to overturn the election that kicked them out in November.
"Today's NLRB decision removes any doubt that major league umpires will be represented by our new union," said American League umpire John Hirschbeck, one of the leaders of the insurgents who won a representation election, 57-35, in November.
Umpires, many angry at a failed mass resignation plan that backfired in July and cost 22 of them their jobs, voted to be represented by the Major League Umpires Independent Organizing Committee.
Phillips and the MLUA appealed, claiming the new union was helped illegally by owners during the election. National Labor Relations Board hearing officer David E. Leach III, who listened to three days of testimony this month, rejected all their objections.
"We said from the beginning that we didn't engage in any improper conduct and we think the board's decision reflects that fact," owners' lawyer Rob Manfred said.
The MLUA has two weeks to appeal Leach's decision to the five-member NLRB in Washington.
"If after we read the opinion, we conclude there are grounds to appeal, then we'll appeal," MLUA lawyer Pat Campbell said.
The new union called for an end to the infighting.
"It's time now for Richie Phillips to yield to the will of a clear majority of the umpires and step aside," said Ron Shapiro, a lawyer and agent who has advised the insurgents. "An appeal would only delay the inevitable now."
Because of the appeal, bargaining for a labor contract to replace the one that expired Dec. 31 has been virtually nonexistent.
"We now have the opportunity to move forward in the best interests of all umpires, the game of baseball and the public," Hirschbeck said. "The only result from an appeal would be to delay the inevitable and to slow down bargaining for a new contact."
Leach overruled the four objections filed by the old union.