ROSEMONT, Ill., July 8 (UPI) -- The Players Association held off on a strike date at its meeting Monday, but the possibility that baseball will face a work stoppage sometime this season looms over Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Milwaukee.
Without a collective bargaining agreement since last November, owners have promised not to lock the players out through the World Series, but the union is fearful management will impose economic changes after the postseason. The union's most likely defense is a strike in August, repeating what happened in 1994.
However, the union's executive board did not set a strike date at Monday's meeting.
"We never discussed a strike date and that was never the purpose of this meeting," said union head Donald Fehr. "We basically gave the players a comprehensive study of where we're at."
In 1994, players convened in Pittsburgh the day before the All-Star Game and did not set a strike date but met later in the month and called for an August 12 walkout. The strike wiped out the World Series for the first time since 1904 and lasted 232 days.
The All-Star Game this time is at the hometown and headquarters of commissioner Bud Selig, who has led the owners in labor negotiations.
Selig is concerned with the economic imbalance that exists between large market and small market teams and has proposed clubs increase the percentage of locally generated revenue they share from 20 percent to 50 percent.
Selig also has proposed a 50 percent luxury tax on the portions of payrolls above $98 million.
"It's probably the level of where they (the owners) want to set the luxury tax that concerns me the most," said Chicago Cubs player representative Joe Girardi.
Fehr painted a pessimistic picture over the gap that exists between the parties regarding revenue sharing and a luxury tax and also said the owners want concessions in salary arbitration.
"They have been adamant with their 50 percent figure on the luxury tax and walked away from us in negotiations on that issue," Fehr said. "They also want to see the structure of arbitration changed in how it is instituted and to the years of service for when players should be eligible."
The New York Yankees are the primary target of the management plan to share half of each team's local revenue and impose a luxury tax on payrolls above $98 million. After the recent acquisitions of outfielder Raul Mondesi and pitcher Jeff Weaver, the Yankees have a payroll exceeding $130 million.
Labor talks have moved slowly since the previous bargaining agreement expired. Complicating the matter is the union's grievance against contraction.
Players claim the vote last fall to eliminate two teams violated their bargaining agreement. Arbitrator Shyam Das will attempt to rule by mid-to-late July.