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11-23-2004, 09:42 PM
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Under President Bush, the makeup of the 5-member NLRB panel (currently with one vacancy) has changed dramatically since the Clinton administration, with a markedly pro-management tilt. Ownership believes that with the appointment of Mike Bartlett, formerly of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and William Cohen, formerly with Institutional Labor Advisors, the NLRB will reject a potential MLBPA claim of failure to negotiate in good faith. If that happens, the owners will be free to unilaterally impose new work rules, including all the provisions of their most recent offer. From that point on, negotiations and contract signings would take place under the rules sought by the owners rather than the terms of the expired CBA.
This is from an article Doug Pappas wrote for during the last MLB showdown. The change in the NLRB panel does seem like a fair point to me. I don't know the jurisprudence on the issue, or what the legal tests are to declare an impasse, but it seems to me that there is at least some validity here. Pappas was a pretty respected commentator on the business of baseball. The only thing is, further down in the same article, he talks about the possibility of decertification if the owners had had an impasse declared. At that point, the owners can't restrict anything about salaries, or entry into the league. Maybe the players have more leverage than is believed, at least in terms of preventing an impasse. The only sticking point on that in my mind is that I have a hard time seeing Goodenow allowing the NHLPA to blow up.

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