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NLRB Decision Expected Friday

January 20, 2000

Richie Phillips and the Major League Umpires Association will find out Friday if the National Labor Relations Board grants their request to have umps vote again on which union they want.

NLRB hearing officer David Leach III intended to issue his decision on the MLUA’s appeal of the election it lost 57-35 to an insurgent union in November,

Phillips, the MLUA’s head, claims owners illegally sided with the insurgents, called the Major League Umpires Independent Organizing Committee, and that the new union illegally attempted to win votes by saying it could get a better deal with owners than the MLUA.

Leach heard three days of arguments in New York two weeks ago and received written briefs last week. He can either call for another vote or say the results of the November election should be certified by Dan Silverman, the NRLB’s New York regional director.

The losing side has two weeks to appeal to the five-man NLRB in Washington.

After the MLUA’s failed resignation strategy led to 22 umpires losing their jobs, the insurgent umps, many in the American League, organized the new union.

Because of the NLRB fight, almost no bargaining has taken place for a labor contract to replace the deal that expired Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Phillips testified Thursday for a third straight day in Philadelphia before arbitrator Alan Symonette, who is hearing the MLUA’s grievance attempting to gain back the 22 jobs.

Phillips has not yet completed his cross examination, and Symonette was uncertain when the case would resume.

MLUA president Jerry Crawford is the only witness to complete his testimony.

Phillips and Crawford called for mass resignations last July, angry over the umpires’ working conditions and wanting to force an early start to labor negotiations.

The strategy collapsed when most AL umps either didn’t resign or quickly withdrew their resignations. Owners then hired 25 new umps from the minor leagues and accepted the resignations of the 22, effective Sept. 2.

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