(Reuters) - The union representing Major League Baseball players said on Thursday its membership is against further salary reductions being sought by the league, which could hamper plans to get the season up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MLB Players Association and MLB have been trying to find common ground for weeks on a return-to-play plan for the 2020 season but have been unable to reach agreement in key areas like player compensation and the length of the season.
The union held a conference call with its executive board and over 100 players on Thursday, a day after their proposal was rejected by MLB, and reaffirmed their position.
“Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said in a statement.
“The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.
“This threat came in response to an association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. ... Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless players agree to further salary reductions.”
According to reports, the union proposal rejected by the league contained elements such as a 114-game regular season with full prorated pay and expanded playoffs.
But owners would reportedly prefer a shorter regular season with a sliding pay scale, and an assurance that the postseason would be completed by Nov. 1 amid concerns about a potential second wave of novel coronavirus infections.
MLB was scheduled to open its 162-game regular season in late March but delayed the campaign due to COVID-19.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto;Editing by Peter Rutherford