BASEBALL: Salary cap row continues

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The Independent Online
Following the introduction of the salary cap, the players' association has told team owners that all unsigned players are free agents. Donald Fehr, the head of the union, has said the uniform player contracts offered last month are defective becau se they contain new provisions. If successful, the move would free about 835 players.

In Washington, the White House chief of staff, Leon Panetta, said President Clinton will be briefed on the strike, and will "try to bring whatever kind of influence he can. He is very concerned that this is an issue which needs to be resolved," Panetta said.

Fehr said existing contracts require owners to offer players the same contract language specified in the expired collective bargaining agreement. The union could file either a grievance or a lawsuit in an attempt to enforce its claim.

In a second argument, the union claimed clubs can no longer renew contracts. When players and clubs have not agreed to contracts by 1 March, clubs have had the right to automatically renew contracts during the following 10 days.

Both sides filed unfair labour practice charges against each other with the National Labor Relations Board on 26 December. A decision by the board on whether to issue complaints is expected next month.

When the cap was implemented, the union imposed a moratorium on signings. Of the 1,069 players currently on 40-man rosters, only 234 have agreed to contracts for next season.