1994 Baseball Strike


Major League Baseball is viewed by most Americans as a source of entertainment. Millions of people turn out during a regular season to see there favorite teams and players play a good game of baseball. However, few see the other side of this form of entertainment. Baseball is as much of a business as any other business. The bottom line is about the profit. This is evident by the strike of 1994.


Historically the 1994 baseball strike can be trace back to the negotiations that started between the union and the owners in early 1972. There were several “work stoppages” as a result of these negotiations, but none lasted near as long as the strike in 1994. The parties involved in our dialogue were the owners, commissioner, players union, and the players. Although many other parties were affected by the strike, we choice these because they appeared to be the main parties involved in the negotiations and why there was a lack of resolution in the negotiations. There appears to be several flaws lead by biases at the negotiations table that lead to the extreme actions of the players union and the owners. The first, as Bazerman would say, was the fixed pie perspective. Second, the failure of all involved to determine the Best Alternative to a negotiated Agreement (BATNA), the ability to assess possible settlement options was affected by the biases of the parties. Third, ignoring the cognitions of the other parties when assessing the negotiation situation; all parties were self absorbed in their own issues and did not take side and did not take into consideration the cognition of the other parties involved, which leaded to non-rational escalation of the situation. Fourth, all sides appeared to be inappropriately overconfidence interfering with the ability to allow accommodations to the differing interests of the other. Both the union and the owners failed to abide by what is referred to as the structure of the negotiation game. (Bazerman) The negotiations parties failed to created a value of the negotiations.


The players felt they had little alternative to striking. Had they continued playing through the season without coming to an agreement, the owners could have declared an impasse and most likely implemented their proposals. Also, the timing of the strike, which began on August 12, 1994, was favorable for the union because it inflicted maximum damage on the owners. That late in the season, the players had received most of their pay, but the owners were vulnerable to big losses because they receive three-fourths of their television revenues from postseason play.


The owners and players proposal resulted from a fixed-pie perspective. The owners wanted to limit each team\'s salaries to 50% of average team revenues for the previous year; every team would be required to have salaries between 84% and 110% of that level. This provided an anchor and was suppose to make every team equal so they would have the same budget. Both the owners and the players union assumed that their interests conflicted with the interests of the other side. They were both fighting for the bigger piece of the pie. The distribution of the economic pie was the major focus in the negotiations. The owners throughout the negotiations showed a tendency to be egocentric in assessing what was fair.


The union viewed the first proposal as a salary cap in disguise, because clubs would resist signing high-salaried free agents if the addition to payroll would have the side of effect of more taxes being paid. Still, the union tried to work with the luxury tax concept. Shortly after rejecting the union’s counteroffer, on September 14, 1994, the owners declared the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904 (Atlantic Unbound). This shows how a proposal is framed can dramatically affected decisions of the negotiator as well as the ability to reach a settlement with the other party.


Bazerman states that before beginning any important negotiation, the consideration of what the parties involved will do if they fail to reach an agreement. By establishing a Best alternative to the negotiation agreement, (BATNA) a value is set for the negotiations. Cooperation within this negotiation was virtually void, except for the commissioner who just avoided