Blog Entry

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 8:54 pm
The NBA labor talks are headed for government intervention after the canceling of games drew the attention of the nation's top federal mediator.

George Cohen, director of the federal mediation and conciliation service, will oversee further negotiations between the NBA and its players' association on a new collective bargaining agreement, the agency said in a news release Wednesday. The sessions will begin Tuesday in New York.

"For a number of months, I have participated in separate, informal, off-the-record discussions with the principals representing the NBA and the NBPA concerning the status of their collective bargaining negotiations," Cohen said in the statement. "It is evident that the ongoing dispute will result in a serious impact, not only upon the parties directly involved, but also, of major concern, on interstate commerce—i.e., the employers and working men and women who provide services related to the basketball games, and, more generally, on the economy of every city in which those games are scheduled to be played.

"In these circumstances, the agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices," Cohen said.

Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, divulged in a radio interview with WFAN in New York earlier Wednesday that the two sides had agreed to have their failed negotiations federally mediated.

Cohen, appointed by President Obama, was called upon to mediate the NFL's labor negotiation with the NFL Players Association before that sport's recent lockout was imposed. He has no binding authority and can only make suggestions. If nothing else, a fresh set of eyes and opinions -- not to mention meetings with a different venue and format -- couldn't hurt.

Cohen has argued five landmark labor cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and last year helped avert a crisis in Major League Soccer's labor talks. He is a former appellate court attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, and in fact argued before then-U.S. District Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the day she issued an injunction that effectively ended the Major League Baseball strike in 1995. Cohen was the MLBPA's lead attorney in the case, and also has worked with the NBPA.

In a Los Angeles Times article from March, football agent Leigh Steinberg said a good mediator is "an expert in the psychology of human gridlock." To that extent, Cohen has joined the right fight, as the NBA and NBPA are hopelessly, needlessly gridlocked over issues that should have been easily solved once they approached a compromise on how to divide the sport's $4 billion of revenues. The league's bargaining talks broke off Monday night after 13 hours over two days and multiple sessions over a two-week period. The league on Monday canceled the first two weeks of the regular season.

Drawn by the fact that lost games will have an economic impact beyond the parties involved, Cohen's office called both parties this week to request that they voluntarily participate in mediation, two sources said. Both agreed.

For those wondering why the step wasn't taken sooner, federal mediators generally don't get involved in labor disputes unless asked, or unless they reach an impasse after the sides had ample time to bargain. The NFL requested Cohen's involvement before the lockout was imposed, and while it's unclear what impact he had on the ultimate resolution, his powers at the time were muted by the lack of urgency in the talks.


Since: Sep 1, 2011
Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:30 pm

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

People, the 99 percenters are protesting daily. Why, no jobs and no work. 
Millionaries are on strike. What is the problem here. Either disband the league and go to market salaries, or cancel the season. 
When a millionaire has no pay check, next year will gravel to come back to a cushie job. 
Give me a break. PLEASE    

Since: Jul 23, 2011
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:47 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

The NBA is a very profitable machine for most involved.  It is my belief that if there is no basketball season this year.  David Stern can kiss his butt as the Owners escort him out the door.  They don't mind him playing a game of horse with the players Union.  But let a hole develop in that Golden pair of Nike Tennis Shoes.  The Owners will forget that D. Stern ever exited.  And if the Players can form their league, game over Mr. Stern.  You had better eat your last great steak, this weekend at the Owners expence. Come the middle of next week, and there is NO SEASON. SEE YA.

Since: Sep 17, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:13 pm

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

I don't entirely agree with the comment that Commissioner Stern has coddled the players too much. In fact, over the years, he has imposed a strict dress code on players, as well as set limits  for those fighting on the court. His office has punished those who have been found to carry weapons on and off the court. And he has been pushing for players to stay in college two years rather than one year as currently stipulated. (I've stated elsewhere in my book it should be four years in college to help both college and pro games.) I do agree with the writer, however, that owners are overspending on these players, whether they are forced to or not. Hopefully, this new contract will bring some sanity to the financial side of the house, but I doubt it.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:49 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

So when you want to sympathize w/ this side or another, remember the American companies that this hurts. Fk all these people

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:47 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

Excellent thinking.  you're forgetting one thing.  I'm a closeout/liquidation buyer so I know all medium size companies that make sporting goods and apparel.  This sux for them too.  Thank god we had a football season.  They were sweating that out.  That would've been the end for most of them.  Basketball isn't nearly as crucial but it'll still hurt in a time where we all are already hurting

Since: Mar 6, 2010
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:01 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

Uhhh, count me as one who would rather watch a Temple vs. Ohio football game any day of the week over that crap they call the NBA. Funny how Mr. Berger talks about the $400 million of revenue that is lost, but doesn't talk about how many owners actually lose more money by having a season than locking out. It's always easy to say get something done when its not on your dime. 

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:44 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

Last I heard. welfare checks won't give you a good seat. When does your check run out?

Since: Jun 22, 2009
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:42 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

George, it's a turd taking on water, let it sink.  Let this thing run its natural course, with the owners crushing these overpaid, would-be drive thru window cashiers.  Spend your time mediating the disputes between the players and their baby mommas, who are likely getting stiffed on child support from these millionaires.

Since: Oct 13, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:33 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

While it's true that moat of the employee's that work the games are low income workers what the previous post before yours was refering to was the local sports bars, venues where fans go to see the games. The revenues that are generaated can't be discounted. I would only be guessing but 82 games equal to 82 nights in which fans are buying beer and food, etc. Not including playoff games. That is a lot of money that is being put into the local ecomomy!
Please give some thoght to your post before going off on another members post.

Since: Dec 14, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:18 am

NBA talks headed to federal mediator

smchap - Don't be such a windbag!  The NBA isn't that important and losing games will have about zero impact on the economy.  Some people will surely be hurt by some lost income but these aren't rocket scientists or brain surgeons.  They are more likely college students or teenagers trying to earn a few bucks.  You make it sound like western civilization will fall apart by the wide reaching impact of a lost NBA season.  Get real!  Hardly anyone cares!  Maybe the NBA community can go work the concession stands at NFL and NHL games during the lockout.

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