Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 May 2011

NFL, NFLPA Wrap-Up Court-Ordered Mediation

Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports the NFL and NFLPA have concluded their two days of court-ordered mediation sessions with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan in Minneapolis.

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash tells Breer that the two sides will resume mediation in early June, after the June 3 hearing with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Update: Breer reports that two days of court-ordered mediation will be held on June 7-8 under Judge Boylan's supervision.

Posted by: Brian McIntyre on 17 May 2011

28 comments, Last at 28 May 2011, 4:01pm by Neoplatonist Bolthead

Comments

1
by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 1:04pm

The Owners have come quite a long way from their original negotiating point (2 million from 1 million, down to 1.35 million), while the players are the ones not really budging from their demands.

In such a case, the owners need to either lockout or start investigating non-union workers... or realize that without a contract teams can pay as little as they want (minimum wage). It would be interesting to see some teams field players who really love the game and are willing to play for a mere $100K a year.

2
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 1:34pm

Not sure if I understand the original position, but wasn't it that the owners wanted the players to take less money in the first place? Considering the NFL has more income now than it did just a couple years ago, I'd find that pretty ridiculous if I were a player. If my boss came to me and said he wanted me to take less money because he wants a new luxury car, I wouldn't be happy either. Especially if the government allowed my boss a legal monopoly so I couldn't go elsewhere.

3
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 1:56pm

It would be interesting to see some teams field players who really love the game and are willing to play for a mere $100K a year.

No not really. If it was the AFL, UFL, or CFL would be popular.

12
by Sifter :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 6:11pm

People seem to take to college football well enough...

14
by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 9:47pm

College football teams cost more than $100k/year.

4
by dryheat :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 3:22pm

Aren't they all now non-union workers?

5
by Dean :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 4:24pm

Well, right now, who are the workers?

6
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 6:40pm

Lock both sides in a room with nothing but bread and water until they come to an agreement.

27
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Sat, 05/28/2011 - 4:00pm

Nah, just a bunch of dead owners.

28
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Sat, 05/28/2011 - 4:01pm

I guess that is an agreement of sorts, huh?

7
by MatMan :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 9:58am

The NFLPA's Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, is A) a lawyer and B) a union boss. That's a terrible combination if you want to engage in legitimate bargaining, and it's why the league has made virtually all of the concessions so far. Smith will happily burn the world down before he budges an inch.

8
by The Powers That Be :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:44am

The who in the what now? The entire negotiation is about how much the players are going to give back. Every one of the players' proposals has been more favorable to the owners than the previous CBA. The owners have made more "concessions" only because the original position they staked out was so absurd.

9
by tuluse :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 12:00pm

Also, isn't Roger Godell a lawyer?

13
by Moderate Mouse (not verified) :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 8:25pm

Yes, but he isn't the league's lawyer, that's Pash.

On the other hand, Smith is the NFLPA head and the Players' lead counsel. Technically, he's entitled to 1/3 of whatever settlement the players get from a lawsuit as their lawyer in a lawsuit. That, to me, is a clear conflict of interest since he alone is entitled to at least 350 million from network lawsuit.

I think Jim Trotter extolled the power sharing arrangement Smith formed with the players as the went into negotiations. The problem was that's how a lawyer manages his clients when they prep for a lawsuit. Brief everyone, get understanding, achieve consensus, and execute the plan. The plan seemed like they wanted to go to court. I never heard a counter-offer from the NFLPA on the owners last proposal. To say it was just like their previous offer or " not good enough" was insane. The whole point of negotiating is give and take.
He seems far more comfortable in court, than at the negotiating table.

23
by tuluse :: Sun, 05/22/2011 - 11:21pm

I don't think the players are asking for a cash settlement from their lawsuit. What is 1/3 of not being locked out?

26
by Intropy :: Mon, 05/23/2011 - 4:47pm

Clearly the lawyers will be entitled to participate in six games of the 2012 season.

10
by Dean :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 12:29pm

Maybe I missed something. What proposals have the players made?

They have made it clear that they'd be happy to play under the old CBA, but the owners have made it equally clear that they consider that to be untenable.

The owners made a proposal shortly before the lockout, but rather than respond, the players walked away from the negociating table, decertified, and took to the courts rather than negociate.

The owners allegedly made another proposal last week, which if I understand correctly was summarily rejected.

I'm not suggesting the players should have taken any of these deals - without details of what they contained, there's no way any of us could offer an educated opinion in that regard. But I'm not aware of any offer that the players have made.

11
by dryheat :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 4:03pm

Yes. The continuing absence of a counter-proposal from labor is baffling. Essentially the owners are bargaining against themselves, and there's enough sharp minds in that group to prevent its continuation.

I really think De Smith needs to go for a deal to get done. It's clear he and the other players association council would rather sue.

15
by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 9:51pm

That's because if they hold out long enough -- they will win. The NFL owners are in a fix because unlike the NBA owners, they are lying about going broke, so they don't have the out of revealing their finances to swing opinions, and run the risk if severely pissing off the cities that pay the lion's share of their stadia.

That last owner's proposal came 10 minutes before the decertification deadline. It was a stall tactic, not a legitimate offer.

16
by Moderate Mouse (not verified) :: Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:27pm

And the demand for 10 years of financials wasn't? No auditor or accountant or even an accounting firm could go through that much data in one work week.

And technically, by that rational, even if a legitimate offer was on the table on the last day it would be too late to review entirely so that would also be a stalling tactic? Deals don't get done until the last minute anyway. To discount it out of hand and not offer a counter proposal was reckless and irresponsible.

24
by dryheat :: Mon, 05/23/2011 - 11:57am

I don't think any owner is claiming to be losing money. The fact is that many of today's stadiums were built at least in part by private financing. The owners that are carrying a significant debt service payment feel that they need more than 1B off the top, and/or a much higher percentage of revenues than the 41% under the last CBA.

One thing I haven't heard from Goodell (and it's a good thing, since it's probably the nuclear option) is contraction. We'll find out if there is or isn't a players' union if Goodell threatens to contract the league or reducing rosters. Let's see the players' reaction when they face a reduction in jobs.

Remember that Selig very astutely was talking contraction (I believe the Twins and Expos) at the very beginning the last MLB contract squabble, and was able to wrest some significant concessions from the Union by taking it off the table.

25
by tuluse :: Mon, 05/23/2011 - 12:17pm

I don't think contraction is going to get mentioned by the NFL as an option, the politics of it just won't work imo.

17
by Ed Schoenfeld (not verified) :: Fri, 05/20/2011 - 2:03pm

The players wont make counterproposals or really negotiate in any way is because If the players actually negotiate labor conditions and pay they would be acting like a union. Since the owners position in the lawsuit is that the union decertification is a sham, the players acting like a union (by negotiating) would give the owners prima facie evidence supporting the owners position in the lawsuit. Nobody with half a brain would do that. The players are only attending the 'mediation' because they were ordered to do so and would 'discuss' the terms only in the context of settling the *players* anti-trust suit against the owners (I.e. no salary cap, no draft, maybe no revenue sharing, open your books, etc.) And the owners don't even want to *start* going there until they have to. This is going to be a long one folks.

18
by ChicagoRaider :: Fri, 05/20/2011 - 4:37pm

That may be true. But the fact is, that one of the first rules of negotiating is not to bid against yourself, that is, not make a series of offers without getting counteroffers.

The other thing that the NFL should be doing (according to negotiation theory) is working on their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). Not sure what that is. In the last big strike, the owners thought the answer was strike-breakers. But I don't think the TV money is there for scrubs, so it may be something else.

19
by Dean :: Fri, 05/20/2011 - 4:51pm

More importantly, as part of the bad deal they signed in 2006, they are expressly prohibited from using replacement players in the event of a work stoppage.

20
by Ed Schoenfeld (not verified) :: Sat, 05/21/2011 - 2:23am

Right, so the owners aren't really 'negotiating' the labor contract during these enforced mediation session either. At best, the two sides are discussing the terms of the lawsuit. At worst, the mediator is asking if the two sides can make changes in their positions, and both sides are giving elaborate answers that boil down to 'no, we can't.'

From the owners' side any sort of continuation policy they come up with on their own will include such things as revenue sharing, allocation of new players by draft, free agency rules, and all of the other 'monopolistic practices' that the players lawsuits complain about. So if the owners implement anything, they give the players prima facie evidence that supports the players' lawsuit.

We are going to be here for a long time.

21
by Ed Schoenfeld (not verified) :: Sat, 05/21/2011 - 2:24am

Right, so the owners aren't really 'negotiating' the labor contract during these enforced mediation session either. At best, the two sides are discussing the terms of the lawsuit. At worst, the mediator is asking if the two sides can make changes in their positions, and both sides are giving elaborate answers that boil down to 'no, we can't.'

From the owners' side any sort of continuation policy they come up with on their own will include such things as revenue sharing, allocation of new players by draft, free agency rules, and all of the other 'monopolistic practices' that the players lawsuits complain about. So if the owners implement anything, they give the players prima facie evidence that supports the players' lawsuit.

We are going to be here for a long time.

22
by tuluse :: Sun, 05/22/2011 - 11:18pm

I've heard that the players have offered the owners another 1/8 of a billion dollars off the top and a rookie wage scale.