PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A federal judge has upheld an arbitrator's decision that ordered Major League Baseball to rehire nine of the 22 umpires who had their resignations accepted two years ago following an unsuccessful labor ploy.
In a decision filed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle upheld a decision issued on May 11 by arbitrator Alan Symonette. The arbitrator had ordered the league to reinstate Drew Coble, Gary Darling, Bill Hohn, Greg Kosc, Larry Poncino, Larry Vanover and Joe West.
In August 1999 the umpires, led by union chief Richie Phillips, decided to pressure Major league Baseball with a mass resignation. But with half-hearted support from its union, the move failed miserably and 22 umpires lost their jobs.
Bartle als ordered that baseball take back umpires Frank Pulli and Terry Tata, who had opted for retirement rather than return to active duty. Pulli and Tata were crew chiefs who had a combined 55 years of experience.
Bartle also ordered that new arbitration hearings be heard for umpires Paul Nauert, Bruce Dreckman and Sam Holbrook.
The 13 who did not get their jobs back included Eric Gregg, Bob Davidson, Bruce Dreckman, Richie Garcia, Jim Evans, Tom Hallion, Ed Hickox, Paul Nauert, Sam Holbrook, Greg Kosc, Ken Kaiser, Larry McCoy and Mark Johnson.
The case had been under review for months before the ruling in May. Testimony began in December 1999 and ended last August.
The umpires resigned during July 1999, at Phillips' urging, as part of negotiations on a new labor contract. Phillips' attempt to strong arm the owners and land a new collective bargaining agreement will go down as one of the worst labor maneuvers in sports history. Major League Baseball had long been looking for a way to break the union and unify many of its rules and regulations.
As soon as the umpires offered their resignations, the league accepted and hired 25 replacements from the minor leagues. Though many of the resignations were withdrawn, the 22 were not retained.
The failed labor strategy cost Phillips his position as union chief as major league umpires opted to form a collective bargaining unit in February 2000.