The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services announced today that director George H. Cohen will act as a mediator between the NFL and players’ union over the new collective bargaining agreement, starting tomorrow in Washington D.C.
“I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement,” Cohen said in a statement. “At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under my auspices.”
The NFLPA then released a statement:
“We hope that this renewed effort, through mediation, will help the players and owners reach a successful deal.”
The NFL hasn't commented outside of confirming it will enter mediation.
This is a positive development, although it seems a bit early for a mediator to become involved since there haven't been any substantial talks yet between the two sides..
There is nothing binding about mediation. But having a third party in the room will help breakdown some of the hard feelings and posturing in the negotiating room. If anything, a mediator can get the process moving by keeping the negotiators on point and talking specifically about the issues that need to be addressed.
Cohen is no stranger to sports. He helped mediate the negotiations between the MLS and its players’ union. NFL labor counsel Bob Batterman was part of those discussions.
The Sports Business Journal had an interesting profile on Cohen in March.