Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Potential for Mediation in NBA dispute - will it go any better than NFL?

The professional basketball players' union filed a complaint with the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board accusing the league of bargaining in bad faith. Typically, a ruling can take 30-60 days. NBA owners are accused of “circus bargaining” or never substantively changing offers during negotiations.

In football, NFLPA elected to de-certify so that its players are no longer part of a union and thus the NFL has no right to carry on a lockout without violating anti-trust laws. That case is in the hands of the Eighth Circuit. That appellate court may rule that the players’ de-certification is little more than a bargaining tactic.

No mediation has been set in the NBA matter. However, in the NFL case, the district judge-directed mediation by a federal magistrate judge came with many marathon conferences, but did not yield a settlement. The parties are currently supposedly engaged in direct talks, perhaps signaling that process was not thought to be as productive. Certainly, the NBA will be watching the NFL and only fans stand to lose.