Two weeks before a potential lockout, the NFL and its players’ union are asking for help in their stalled negotiations.
Both sides agreed Thursday to mediation as they discuss a new collective bargaining agreement. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an independent U.S. government agency, will oversee talks in Washington beginning Friday.
After holding separate discussions with representatives from the league and the union, FMCS director George H. Cohen said both sides agreed to have the agency mediate. Mediation is not binding.
“Any time that both sides of negotiations can get together, whether through conventional means of bargaining or mediation, to come to an agreement that can benefit all parties, it is a good thing,” NFLPA president Kevin Mawae(notes) told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Negotiations broke down last week, leading to the cancellation of one planned session. The players are expecting the owners to lock them out if the CBA expires on March 3 without a new agreement.
“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.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press in an e-mail: “We are now in mediation.”