The NBA and players union are going to try one more time to end the lockout by meeting with a federal mediator on Oct. 18. With the first two weeks of the season already scrapped and no progress at all in labor talks they figure it’s worth a shot. The mediator is George Cohen, who’s a director with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

Cohen will oversee the talks between the owners and union at meetings in New York and he said he’s been talking with both sides for the past few months already. The FMCS was started by President Obama in 2009 as an independent government agency.

In 2010 Cohen was instrumental in helping Major League Soccer (MLS) come to an agreement with its players on a new collective bargaining agreement and its players just before the season kicked off. Both the MLS and the players’ union commended Cohen for his work. It’s unclear if it was the NBA or the players who requested meeting with a mediator.

It’s also been reported that NBA boss David Stern met with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Oct. 12. The players’ union lodged a complaint with the NLRB against the league in May and accused it of not negotiating in good faith. When the league locked the players out in July the union amended the complaint and then canceled the summer league in Las Vegas.

In return, the NBA filed a complaint against the players’ union along with a federal lawsuit that claimed the union was planning to decertify and wasn’t negotiating in good faith. The NLRB’s been studying the claims for the past five months now and sent its recommendation to its lawyers in Washington.

If it turns out that the NLRB rules in favour of the players and then files a complaint against the league the organization would be able to ask a judge to end the lockout immediately. The NLRB could also tell the NBA what it proposes to do and request the league to come to an agreement with the players within 48 hours.

Some fans feel a mediator is the right solution to the problem because mediation was used to help end the recent four-month long NFL lockout. So far, the NBA and the players have attempted to settle their disputes on their own, but it’s obviously not getting them anywhere.

After the last round of meetings Stern said there was a huge gap between them, but the union said it felt some progress had been made. The main issues that need to be solved include the luxury tax, raises, length of player contracts, player raises, roster sizes, and revenue sharing.

Going to a mediator seems to be a sensible move as both sides don’t really have anything to lose, other than millions of dollars and the entire 2011/12 NBA season.


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