The NFL and the Players Union met today for the 4th straight day of talks with federal mediator George Cohen at the Federal Media and Conciliation Service in Washington, DC. At this point, the fact that both sides have decided to bring in a 3rd party and continue speaking is probably a good sign. There is still hope to get a deal done before the deadline, but nothing is guaranteed yet. A week ago though talks had broken down and there was little hope. At least now the 2 sides agree they can’t do it alone and if a lock out is to be avoided, this is the only way to go about continuing the talks.
Here is the latest from www.NFL.com
…WASHINGTON — The NFL and NFLPA have started Day 4 of negotiations before federal mediator George Cohen at the Federal Media and Conciliation Service.
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash was first to arrive Monday, going through the doors at around 8 a.m. ET. Outside counsel Bob Batterman arrived at the FMCS at 8:50 a.m., and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was right behind him at 9:12 a.m.
NFLPA officials met at their 20th Street offices in the morning, before making the two-block walk over to the federal mediator’s office just before 11 a.m. Executive director DeMaurice Smith arrived with Browns linebacker and executive committee member Scott Fujita. General counsel Richard Berthelsen, outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler, permanent player rep Pete Kendall, and executive committee members Sean Morey, Charlie Batch and Tony Richardson were among the union contingent.
Sunday’s meetings lasted over eight hours , the longest day of negotiations since the NFL and NFLPA arrived in Washington on Friday.
On the way out of Sunday’s meeting, Richardson said the “conversation is good.” Pash said earlier in the day that, “We are working hard and following the director’s playbook. We’ll see what we come up with.”
But both sides, per Cohen’s request, have been operating under a cone of silence on the details of the meeting. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to the federal mediation on Thursday, and logged a total of more than 20 hours of meetings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3.
The plan is for this set of meetings to go right through Thursday, with the clock ticking to the expiration of the CBA. Union chiefs will meet with player agents at a mandatory summit at the scouting combine on Friday, and the league has meetings scheduled on March 2 and 3 in Northern Virginia near D.C.
The players believe that team owners are preparing to lock them out as soon as March 4, which could threaten the 2011 season.
News of the start of mediation could be a positive sign after several months of infrequent negotiations — and frequent rhetoric, including charges from each side that the other was hoping for a work stoppage.
The league and union went more than two months without any formal bargaining until Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl. The sides met again last week but called off a second meeting that had been scheduled for the following day.
The most recent CBA was signed in 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.
The biggest issue separating the sides is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues. Among the other significant points in negotiations: the owners’ push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games, a rookie wage scale and benefits for retired players.
Cohen was involved in Major League Soccer’s negotiations with its players’ union last year, when a possible work stoppage was avoided.
He was the baseball players’ association’s lead lawyer in federal court in 1995, when the National Labor Relations Board obtained an injunction against owners from then-District Judge — and now Supreme Court Justice — Sonia Sotomayor that led players to end their strike, which lasted more than seven months.
The FMCS was involved in negotiations during the 2004-05 NHL lockout and in a 2005 dispute between the U.S. Soccer Federation and national team players.