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NFL labor talks back on

With time running out on the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed today to work with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to resume negotiations. The first session is scheduled to be held tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

The CBA is due to expire at 11:59 p.m. on March 3.

“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,” agency director George H. Cohen said in a written statement, according to the Washington Post. “At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under my auspices in Washington, D.C., commencing Friday, February 18.”

But don’t expect to hear much about the negotiations.

“Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of those negotiations until further notice,” Cohen said.

In a statement released this afternoon, the NFLPA said, “The NFLPA has always focused on reaching a fair Collective Bargaining Agreement through negotiations. We hope that this renewed effort, through mediation, will help the players and owners reach a successful deal.”

The owners broke off talks with the players last Wednesday after a lengthy bargaining session. The sides had been scheduled to meet on Thursday, but those talks were canceled, and no substantive negotiations have taken place since.

Mediation is a non-binding process, meaning that Cohen can’t issue any rulings that each side must adhere to. However, it’s a positive step in that both sides have agreed to have a neutral third party in on the talks.

Last year, Cohen helped Major League Soccer reach a deal with its players union.

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