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Latest News - February 2011

February 24, 2011
NFL, Union Have ‘Strong Difference’ As talks adjourn, Mediator Cohen Says
Source: Bloomberg
By: Curtis Eichelberger

The National Football League and its players union retain “strong differences” on basic issues after making some progress in seven days of talks that adjourned a week before their contract expires, a U.S. government mediator overseeing the discussions said today.

The two sides suspended negotiations after their seventh consecutive session in Washington and agreed to resume talking March 1, according to George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service.

The current collective bargaining agreement ends March 3. The union, the National Football League Players Association, has said it expects the owners of the $9 billion-a-year league to lock them out once the deal expires.

“Some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties,” Cohen said in a statement. “Nonetheless, I recommended and the parties have agreed to resume the mediation process in my office commencing next Tuesday. During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.”

NFL owners voted in 2008 to opt out of the labor contract after this season, saying it didn’t account for costs such as those of building stadiums. Talks have included topics such as what share of revenue players should get, expanding the season to 18 games from 16, a rookie salary cap and health care.

Money, Conditions

Cohen said the NFL and the union held constructive talks on issues covering both economics and player-related conditions.

“The tenor of the across-the-table discussions reflected a noteworthy level of mutual respect even in the face of strongly held competing positions,” Cohen said. “The parties met both in full committee and in subcommittees where discrete, technical issues lent themselves to smaller groups.”

Cohen’s office asked both parties to refrain from public comment while the mediation continues. League spokesman Greg Aiello referred all requests for comment to Cohen’s statement. Union spokesman George Atallah didn’t immediately return e-mails seeking comment and linked to Cohen’s statement on the Twitter social-networking website.

 

 


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