Posted on: April 6, 2011 6:08 pm

NFL, NFLPA can't even agree on how to negotiate

Posted by Will Brinson

When the NFL and the NFLPA spent several weeks mediating in Washington, D.C., things didn't go perfectly. That's why they went to court on Wednesday. But NFLPA lead counsel Jim Quinn said on Wednesday afternoon that mediation, between now and Judge Susan Nelson's ruling on Wednesday's hearing, is "certainly something we'll consider."

Of course, the caveat there is that the mediation Quinn's referring to is binding mediation governed by Judge Nelson, not the "voluntary" style of mediation that took place at the Federal Mediation and Counseling Services building under the guidance of George H. Cohen.

"That's certainly something we'll consider," Quinn said. "Because any way to get the players back on the field and playing … makes sense."

When asked if he'd be consider "More likely it will be here in federal court having to do with settlement of litigation, not collective bargaining," Quinn said.

Naturally, the NFL disagrees with this notion.

"Our basic position, as it has been, is that these kind of matters ought to be settled at the collective bargaining table, and not at a federal court," David Boies, attorney for the NFL, said. "We've asked the court to deny the injunction that the players' association has asked for."
NFL Labor

Boies also emphasized the importance of utilizing the FMCS, rather than entering into mediation under the guidance of Judge Nelson.

"We've said from the beginning that we're prepared to resume collective bargaining," Boies said. "The [FMCS] has a lot of experience, they're ready to go -- all it takes is for the players' association, formerly known as a union, as Prince would say, to decide that they are prepared to come back and bargain."

Look, the difference here -- which relates on how to start trying to settle the case -- is pretty stark. And problematic. And if you're a fan, pretty annoying.

But it shouldn't be surprising.

That's because the NFL, for semantical reasons, doesn't want to get involved in "legal settlements" -- by doing so, they risk admitting that the union has, in fact, dissolved. Additionally, that mediation would be under the Judge Nelson's watch and, judging by the court proceedings today, they're not too interested in that.

For the players, they'd clearly prefer to get involved in binding settlement talks handled by Judge Nelson and not move away from the venue in which they hold the most power: court.

All of which is to say, don't hold your breath waiting for one side to cave and saunter into the other side's venue to cheerfully negotiate this matter.

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