Originally created 08/28/99

Owners warn umpires against pending strike



NEW YORK -- Baseball umpires were warned Friday that they will be fired if they strike next week as some have predicted they will.

American League president Gene Budig and NL president Len Coleman sent the warning in a letter many umpires received Friday.

Some of the umpires backing union head Richie Phillips have talked about striking over baseball's refusal to allow 22 umpires to withdraw their resignations, which are effective Thursday.

Baseball's labor contract with umpires, which runs through Dec. 31, contains a no-strike clause.

Contents of the memo were disclosed by a baseball official speaking on the condition he not be identified. He said the memo told umpires baseball officials were confident they would not strike, but that anyone who did would be "terminated."

Phillips and umpires' president Jerry Crawford did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Most umpires submitted their resignations last month, saying at the time they wanted to force an early start of bargaining on a new labor deal. The strategy backfired when 27 umpires failed to resign or quickly withdrew their resignations. The leagues then accepted the resignations of 22 umps and hired 25 replacements from the minor leagues.

In an effort to keep the 22 umps working, the union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Owners expect the NLRB Board to defer action on the charges and say the matter is subject to the clause in the labor contract requiring arbitration for disputes.

If that happens, Crawford said the union may file suit in federal court in Philadelphia in an effort to obtain an injunction that would prevent baseball from letting go of the 22.