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Umpires’ Grievance Hearing Starts

November 6, 1999

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Wearing baseball-shaped badges with the number ``22″ written on them, major league umpires met to talk about about saving that number of jobs.

Members of the union representing the umpires met Friday to discuss a request by baseball owners to dismiss a grievance filed by the union in an attempt to regain jobs for 22 of its members.

Tom Jennings, a Philadelphia-based attorney representing the union, and Frank Connelly, who represents baseball owners, said the group mostly discussed procedural issues.

``I hope to accomplish the employment of 22 umpires. It’s been my goal since the beginning. It’ll be my goal until the end,″ Jennings said. ``Nothing is as it appears, but I’m not going to discuss trial strategy.″

Baseball owners made their request for a dismissal Thursday. The union asked for additional time to respond, and arbitrator Alan Symonette recessed the case until Dec. 13. He said he expected to rule on the owners’ motion by then.

Owners accepted the resignations of the 22 umpires, effective Sept. 2, after a mass resignation plan failed. They told Symonette the case is beyond the scope of his authority.

Union head Richie Phillips said Thursday he’s glad the union has agreed to work with Jennings.

``He’s one of the pre-eminent labor lawyers in this country. Having someone come in with a fresh look is very good for the union,″ Phillips said. ``It was very positive, very upbeat. We’re looking forward to getting into the substance of the case.″

Phillips is battling dissident umpires, who want to form a new union and have Ron Shapiro, the agent for Cal Ripken, negotiate their next labor contract. Mail voting started Friday, and the National Labor Relations Board will announce the results Nov. 30.

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