Tuesday, December 9, 2014

MLB-WUA Contract Talks Stall, Lockout Possible (Source)

MLB may lockout its umpires if union-league cannot agree on contract terms, according to an anonymous baseball official. The World Umpires Association, founded in 2000 to replace the former Major League Umpires Association, previously signed a five-year deal in 2009, which at the time was the largest-ever contract in MLB history. That CBA runs through December 31, 2014, which means the WUA and MLB must ratify a new deal prior to the 2015 season or—according to the anonymous MLB source—a lockout is on the horizon.

Ergo, while teams and general managers across the league descend on San Diego for baseball's winter meetings, the umpires attempt to renew and revise their deal with baseball.

At the negotiation table for the umpires is union legal counsel Brian Lam of Washington, DC's Lam Law, PLLC. WUA executive board members include Joe West (President of WUA), Fieldin Culbreth (Vice President), and Jerry Layne (Secretary/Treasurer), with the governing board comprised of at-large members Phil Cuzzi, Mike Everitt, Sam Holbrook, Dan Iassogna, Jeff Kellogg and Mike Winters.

Umpires previously were locked out to start the regular season in 1995, when the MLB club owners held a 120-day standoff with Richie Phillips' MLUA during which replacement umpires were used. A series of news stories from December 23, 1994 had predicted the lockout by showing the differences in what the MLUA wanted and what the AL and NL offices were willing to concede for their umpires. The most recent (and current) CBA was ratified and announced on December 23, 2009.

In 1999, umpires attempted a mass resignation as part of a collective bargaining strategy. Fearing another lockout, baseball simply accepted the resignations while John Hirschbeck founded and assumed leadership of the WUA, leading to not only mass hiring, but years of legal battles and minor league journeys that ultimately brought umpires like West, Bob Davidson and Ed Hickox back to the big leagues.

The NBA and NFL also experienced recent lockouts of their officials.

H/T: @JoshVernier610


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