Posted on: November 6, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 2:08 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association resumed negotiations on a new collective bargaining on Saturday afternoon in New York City -- the first time the sides had met face-to-face in more than a week -- with federal mediator George Cohen once again presiding over the talks.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that talks concluded after more than eight hours with "no deal" being reached. There are currently no further negotiating sessions scheduled between the two sides.
Saturday's session began at roughly 2 p.m. and stretched past 1 a.m. and included all the major players: NBA commissioner David Stern, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher.
Following the meetings, NBA commissioner David Stern told a group of assembled media that the two sides had endured a "long day," with Cohen making a list of six recommendations regarding system issues -- including a BRI offer with a 49 percent to 51 percent band for the players, modifications to the mid-level exception, heavier restrictions on luxury tax payers, and others -- and that the NBA adopted five of those six suggestions into their current proposal.
"We told the players we would put those in writing so they could be understood and transparent for both sides and we hoped they would accept it," Stern said. "We would be amenable to making a deal on that basis until Wednesday at the close of business."
After Wednesday's deadline, Stern implied, the owners' proposal would get significantly worse.
"If we are unable to make a deal on those terms by the close of business on Wednesday, we will be making a new proposal, which we will also share very soon with the players in writing," Stern said. "[It] is multi-faceted, but for purposes of this press conference, it would be a 47 percent proposal, a flex cap, and lots of other issues that you have become familiar with. We hope that this juxtaposition [of offers] will cause the union to recess its position and accept the deal."
Stern then noted that the NBPA did not accept the NBA's offer as currently constructed.
"I think it's fair to say that, speaking on behalf of the union, [NBPA lawyer Jeffrey] Kessler rejected the mediator's recommendations and our proposal," Stern said. "But hope springs eternal and we would love to see the union accept the proposal which is now on the table."
Stern said he felt confident and confirmed that he had a "sense" that he could sell the current offer to the majority of his owners needed for ratification.
But, he admitted, the negotiations are starting to wear to him.
"I'm tired," Stern said. "We made the proposal because we hope it will be accepted by Wednesday. I'm not going to make percentage guesses or anything like that. We want our players to play, we want to have a season, these are the terms that we are prepared to gear up and get in as many games as possible."
NBPA president Derek Fisher had a much more solemn take on the day's events.
"Today is another very sad day for our fans, for our arena workers, our parking lot attendants, our vendors, a very frustrating, sad day," Fisher said. "We, for sure, unequivocally made true, good-faith efforts to try and get this deal done tonight. And we're at a loss for why we could not close it out based on the moves that we made towards the NBA and the league in getting this deal done. We made moves that were extremely significant. We made economic moves that were a genuine attempt to try to close the gap between where we were and where the NBA is."
Fisher "respectfully disagreed" with Stern's account of the events, saying that Cohen "never actually proposed any formal ideas or concepts" on Saturday, but that he did lay out "what-ifs" for discussion points. Fisher disputed the characterization of the NBA's BRI proposal, saying that it would be difficult for the players to meet the requirements to achieve the upper compensation end.
He ended his opening remarks by clearly confirming that the players do not find the NBA's current offer acceptable.
"Right now, we've been given the ultimatum and our answer is that's not acceptable to us," Fisher said.
The offer was so undesireable, Fisher said, that the NBPA was not planning to meet to discuss it prior to Wednesday's deadline.
"There's not a deal that we can present to [all the players to] take a vote on," Fisher said. "I cannot say at this point that we would call a general body meeting to take a vote on what has been proposed at this point."
Prior to the conclusion of the negotiating session, the Washington Post reported that the two sides were "very close" to reaching a new dal while ESPN.com reported that Saturday's meeting was "going very well."
Representatives from all 30 NBA teams also met in New York on Saturday, prior to the NBA-NBPA negotiations.
Entering Saturday, concern had been raised by a number of developments. First, reports of a possible rift between Fisher and Hunter brewed throughout the week. Then, a group of NBPA consulted with a top antitrust attorney to receive more information about possibly decertifying the union. Finally, a report surfaced that a group of hard-line owners, led by NBA legend and Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, felt that a 50/50 revenue split with the players was too generous, preferring a 53/47 split for the owners, an offer that would certainly anger the players, who were offering a 52.5/47.5 split in their favor.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 8:13 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Two weeks ago, Federal mediator George Cohen agreed to oversee more than 24 hours of negotiations between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association in hopes of ending the ongoing NBA lockout. He was not successful, throwing up his hands and bailing after talks broke down. "No useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time," Cohen said in a prepared statement upon his depature.
Apparently, Cohen still sees no useful purpose in his presence.
Reports broke earlier this week that Cohen might re-enter the NBA's labor quagmire, but multiple reports on Tuesday indicate that will not happen.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that it "looks like the federal mediator will not be rejoining NBA labor talks. Nor are any (non-mediated) talks scheduled."
SI.com reported that Cohen's decision came after he conferred with both sides: "Source says federal mediator George Cohen spoke with both NBA and NBPA officials about another joint session but it will not be happening. No new meetings scheduled."
How to read this? The glass if half full approach would argue that a mediator is unnecessary because compromises have been forged on so many of the system issues and that the two sides, after a pretty active negotiating period, have a clear understanding of each other's positions. The glass is half empty approach would argue that a mediator who listened to the two sides state their respective cases for their stances on the revenue split might reasonably conclude that he would be wasting his time by showing up unless one, if not both, sides indicates to him they are willing to make a substantial move.
In that vein, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote on Tuesday that the lockout won't ever be resolved by a mediator. Rather, an agreement will only come from the two central figures: NBA commissioner David Stern and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Royce Young
When labor negotiations fell apart two weeks ago after the two sides met with a federal mediator for a couple days, things didn't look good. Not just for the NBA, but the mediator George Cohen put out a statement that basically sounded like, "Those two are hopeless; I'm out."
But according to Yahoo! Sports, Cohen might be brought back, as early as this week. No meetings are currently scheduled but as we've seen, that can change in an instant.
Cohen left the talks two weeks ago when it became excedingly clear that the two sides just weren't going to be moving. His role was to facilitate the discussion and help locate a common ground. But he walked away when he started seeing just how stubborn and dug in the sides are.
With a new collective bargaining agreement close to done, Cohen could be something that helps push things through though. The hangup is still, as its always been, Basketball Related Income. And with the owners entrenched in their 50 percent or less position and the players dug in to 53 and no less position, something's got to give. And maybe Cohen can help them find that middle ground.
I wouldn't get my hopes too high for it, but it all starts with talking. And if Cohen's what gets them back in a room to do that, that's a minor victory.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:38 pm
By Matt Moore
The FMCS released a statement on behalf of federal mediator George Cohen indicating that the two sides in the NBA-NBPA dispute are so far apart it does not warrant further mediation by the FMCS.
Here is the statement.
NEW YORK, NY — “As a follow up to the NBA’s and NBA Players Association agreeing to my invitation to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS, three days of mediation have taken place. During this period, a wide variety of issues were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner, consistent with what one would expect to take place in a constructive collective bargaining setting.
Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held, competing positions that separated them on core issues.
In these circumstances, after carefully reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered judgment of myself and Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, who has been engaged with me throughout this process, that no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time. For our part, the Agency has advised the parties that we will be willing and prepared to continue to facilitate any future discussions upon their mutual request.”
Posted on: October 15, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 6:23 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
NBA commissioner David Stern minced no words in countless radio and television interviews this week: If a labor agreement can't be reached with the National Basketball Players Association during a Tuesday negotiation session led by federal mediator George Cohen, then the league's annual Christmas Day games will be put into grave jeopardy.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com recorded the clear, repeated threats.
"It's time to make the deal," Stern said, "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut -- this is not in my official capacity of canceling games -- but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day."NBPA president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter pushed back hard against those threats following a union regional meeting at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Friday.
Fisher made it sound like the deadline and the urgency surrounding it were simply figments of Stern's imagination.
"That's an arbitrary deadline just to throw out on commissioner Stern's part," Fisher said. "We don't see it that way. Obviously he's entitled to make the statement but it just seems very arbitrary and with no real purpose other than to sway player sentiment. I don't agree with the way it's been done but I'm not him so I can't speak to that part of it."
Hunter called out the NBA for choosing to limit its availability for discussions next week.
"George Cohen, the federal mediator, was proposing that we actually set all of next week aside," Hunter said. "The entire week, for mediation. It's because of the NBA's schedule and the commissioner's alleged inability to get together with us over four or five days, I think he set the sort of superficial, arbitrary deadline saying that if it doesn't happen by Tuesday then all these other things will evolve as a consequence."
Hunter also noted that its unrealistic to expect a single day of negotiating to produce a new collective bargaining agreement.
"My attitude is that if they really want to get a deal, we've been negotiating for over two years," he said. "The probability and likelihood of getting it in one day, because we'll only be together one day on Tuesday, then I believe the NBA has scheduled Board of Governors meetings and other meetings on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So that's why it's limited to one day and one day only."
If Stern's purpose in launching the media blitz and ramping up the threats was to appeal to rank-and-file union members, Fisher said it won't work.
"For our players, we've made a pledge not to continue in any way to allow what is say or written or printed in the media or statements that would be made to frustrate us or sway us in any way," he said. "To make sure we're thinking as businessmen and we're being very smart about what we need to do."
Hunter even resorted to a firearm metaphor to underscore how undeterred he was by Stern's threats of cancelled games and "vaporized" player wages.
"I think it can only get worse for both of us," Hunter said. "If somebody is pointing a gun at my head, I'm going to point one back at him. That door doesn't swing one way. It's not just the players who will suffer if games are lost."