LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With a strike deadline looming, President Bush's spokesman said Thursday that baseball's owners and players should consider the impact a work stoppage would have on America as the nation commemorates the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The owners and players need to keep in mind not only what a strike would do to the future of baseball, but also what it would to America during a time of national unity and national spirit," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said after talking to Bush about the potential strike.
Earlier, he said the White House was not getting involved in Major League Baseball's labor dispute.
"This is something the players and owners need to resolve," McClellan said.
The president made his personal fortune as former managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team and still follows the game closely. Earlier this month, he said he would be furious if the players and owners could not save the season.
The strike deadline is Friday.
Asked if the White House or Bush would get involved in the negotiations, McClellan said no.
Then-President Bill Clinton intervened during the last baseball strike in 1994.
Just after the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service got involved at the outset of that walkout, Clinton circumvented the labor-relations agency and got the players and owners to agree to use former Labor Secretary W.J. Usery as a mediator.
That strategy failed, and players returned to work only after a federal judge issued an injunction restoring the rules of the previous contract.
Bush, however, has been aggressive about intervening to block strikes in labor disputes in the airline and other industries.
Last December, he signed an executive order one day before a strike deadline, imposing a "cooling-off" period between United Airlines and its mechanics. Both sides later accepted a settlement proposed by a presidential emergency board.
In March 2001, Bush intervened four days before a Northwest Airlines mechanics' strike deadline, barring a walkout. An agreement was later reached. At American Airlines, just hours before Bush planned to step in and block a strike by flight attendants in June 2001, both sides reached an agreement.