In Business This Week: HEADLINER: RANDY LEVINE
THIS RELIEF PITCHER MAY GET THE SAVE
Major League Baseball negotiator Randy Levine has done what several predecessors could not. He's on the verge of a contract--at last--with the players' union that would include a salary cap but preserve players' arbitration rights. Now he has to get a few owner holdouts, including the Chicago White Sox's Jerry Reinsdorf, and players' union chief Donald Fehr to make the few concessions needed to close a deal. The old contract expired in 1993.
Two sticking points remain: whether to credit players for the time they spent on strike in 1994 and 1995, and whether to drop unfair-labor complaints they filed then. A vote will be set if a compromise is reached.
Levine said in a statement that "a lot of work is necessary to reach closure," but closing this deal should be relatively easy for the labor veteran. Earlier, as New York City's labor commissioner, Levine hammered out contracts with bus drivers, sanitation workers, and school custodians. Baseball players may be no easier to deal with. But Levine is willing to play hardball.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLAND By David GreisingReturn to top
MCI DIALS M FOR MEXICO
TELEFONOS DE MEXICO, THE telephone monopoly, long has been better known for surly operators and crackly lines than for customer service. But thanks to new competition, that may change. On Aug. 12, Avantel, a venture between MCI and Banamex, Mexico's biggest bank, started a service for big corporate clients with a 3,400-mile fiber-optic network linking 33 Mexican cities to the U.S. and Canada. Competition in residential long-distance begins in January, and seven other companies plan to invest nearly $7 billion in the next five years to get into the market. So, even though Telmex recently offered 20% discounts on long-distance calls, it may still be vulnerable. Mexico's long-distance market is expected to nearly triple, to $11 billion, in the next five years.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
BRAWLING OVER TRAWLING
GREENPEACE IS PLAYING chicken with fishing companies. The environmental group says trawling operations, which it dubs "strip-mining of ocean resources," indiscriminately capture millions of creatures and fish. The activists plan protests starting Aug. 15 in which they will use Zodiac boats to chase the giant trawlers and confront them at sea. A spokesman for American Seafoods, owner of a major trawler fleet, calls Greenpeace's criticism "ludicrous" and says the industry is thoroughly regulated.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
CAN HE GET SNAPPLE CRACKING?
A NEW AGE DRINK IS GETTING a hard edge, as Michael Schott signs on as president of besieged Snapple Beverage. Schott, previously sales vice-president of Nantucket Nectars, "pushes himself, and expects everybody else to do the same," says a former colleague. Schott, who declined to comment, spent just four months at his last job, but Nantucket co-founder Thomas Scott says he worked constantly with distributors and retailers to boost sales. Snapple could use a boost: It has been losing money for parent Quaker Oats since it was acquired in 1994.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top