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Bush "furious" at baseball strike possibility

Bush "furious" at baseball strike possibility
(AP) -- President Bush said Friday he will be "furious" if baseball players carry out their threat to strike on Aug. 30, sternly urging the union and owners to resolve their differences. "They need to keep working," Bush said.

He gave no indication he would take a role in the bitter dispute between owners and players, as President Bill Clinton did in 1994.

Shortly after players announced their strike date Friday, Bush walked up to reporters here and called on both sides to find an accord.

"The baseball owners and the baseball players must understand that if there is a stoppage, a work stoppage, a lot of fans are going to be furious, and I'm one of them," Bush said.

"It's very important for these people to get together," he said. "They can make every excuse in the book not to reach an accord; It is bad for them not to reach an accord."

The key issue blocking a settlement is a desire by owners to impose a luxury tax on high-payroll teams. The union thinks taking away too much money from the high-spending teams would slow salary increases.

Bush was a managing partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989-1994.

Early last year, when a baseball strike was looming, Bush said he would stay out of negotiations, saying he would "provide false hope" in a labor dispute.

Technically, there is no role for the executive branch other than lobbying the parties. There already has been a mediator appointed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Pete Donatello. He has been in contact with the parties, but has not been to bargaining sessions.

In 1994, just after the FMCS got involved after the start of the strike, Clinton went around the agency and got players and owners to agree to use former Labor Secretary W.J. Usery as their mediator. Ultimately, he had little effect on bargaining. Unable to get the sides to agree, he proposed recommendations, which the union rejected and the Clinton administration refused to try to get the union to accept.

Because Bush is a former owner, he is in a unique position. The players' association distrusts him because he is a former owner.

Relations between Bush and baseball commissioner Bud Selig are not warm. Bush wanted to be commissioner before he ran for governor of Texas; Selig repeatedly said he wouldn't stand in Bush's way, then blocked him because he wanted the job for himself.



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