Judge Nelson will order the league, players to return to mediation

AP

Well, the silence lasted two days.

On Wednesday, Judge Susan Nelson urged the NFL and the players suing the league to return to mediation.  On Thursday, the two sides agreed to do so, while disagreeing about the format and location of the talks.

On Friday, Judge Susan Nelson convened a conference call with the parties regarding mediation.  Neither side was talking after the discussion, at the specific command of Judge Nelson.

On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Judge Nelson told the two sides that she will impose mediation on them “early this week.”

It’s unclear why she didn’t do so on Wednesday.  Perhaps she wanted to see whether they could agree to it on their own, as the first step toward reaching other more important agreements.  Perhaps she didn’t want to come off as heavy handed, given the possible bastardization-in-translation that could have caused fans to conclude that she was forcing the parties against their will to reach an agreement.

The truth is that judges routinely compel parties to engage in mediation.  It doesn’t mean that the parties are required to settle the case.  Instead, they must simply participate in the process in good faith.

It remains to be seen whether the mediation will occur in D.C. under the supervision of George Cohen, or whether Judge Nelson will appoint a different mediator.  We believe that Judge Nelson should appoint Cohen, since that approach would give each side a little bit of what they desire.  The owners want to utilize Cohen’s 17-day head start on the process, and the players want the mediation to occur under the umbrella of the Brady antitrust litigation.

If that happens, Cohen will have much more power over the parties this time around, since he’ll be able to go directly to Judge Nelson if Jerry Jones does the knuckle-bang-and-leave-the-table move, or if the players try to shut mediation down over the potentially trumped-up notion that they didn’t spend enough time in the presence of men who would be inclined to do the knuckle-bang-and-leave-the-table move.

Judge Nelson also could decide to mediate the case on her own, which would make the parties even less likely to act unreasonably or disrespectfully toward each other.

46 responses to “Judge Nelson will order the league, players to return to mediation

  1. “…conclude that she was forcing the parties against their will to reach an agreement.”

    /facepalm

    I’d really like to know how you guys come up with this garbage.

  2. They are nothing but children, honestly I thought teenage girl drama stopped in highschool. It is ridiculous that they cannot behave or be respectful to one another and just work out a contract.

  3. awesome…. it takes a woman get the ball rolling in a men dominant sport… good job now lets finish the deal.

  4. With all due respect to Judge Babe Nelson, nothing will get accomplished in mediation. The league wants this case decided by the REAL justices in St. Louis. Again, with all due respect to madam Judge, this is a case that needs the experience of the men folk in St. Louie.

  5. I applaud Judge Susan Nelson on her efforts. She seems to be a fine and upstanding judge. I appreciate her attitude, and ability to make both sides think before they act.

    However. I want “Judge Judy” on this as soon as possible. Judge Judy would rip a new one in both the NFL and NFLPA.

    I can see the commercial trailers now….

    “The NFL vs. NFLPA right after Judge Judy rules on Bobby Carlton who is suing his former room mate for loss of wages after she injured him in a game of monopoly.”

  6. I do commend her highness, bless her heart. Some issues might be able to be agreed upon, but HGH testing, Court oversight of the CBA, and player cut percentages are not going to be resolved before a decision on the lockout is rendered by the high panel of Republican judges.

  7. Lets just hurry up and get this all appealed to the high court so the owners can crush those greedy, ungrateful players.

    They dont want to negotiate. They only want to spin tall tales and follow the ambulance chaser.
    It’s disgusting that these spoiled players are biting the hand that so generously has fed them.

  8. Judd Nelson hasn’t been relevant since The Breakfast Club.

    Who gives a damn what he thinks!

    Crosses one goaline with his fist up and now he’s an expert.

  9. If the DB’s in Congress can figure out a way to put aside the BS and get somehting done, the NFL and players can do the same. If they can’t, that actually means they are dumber than politicians…NO ONE wants that label.

  10. Just more wasted time before she overrules the lockout. Just in time for the draft.

    Either way, this labor dispute is in it’s final days.

  11. So it took a judge to tell them to get back in and mediate when they should have been doing it all along…Genius.

  12. Am hoping that it is mediation for the CBA…The players wish to mediate the lawsuit, which is BS.

    People out here like DEB think that the players have wanted to negociate the CBA, they do not unless they hold the leverage of the lawsuit over the owners head.

    Get the CBA done…and there is no lawsuit…No CBA, and I hope the owners appeal, win, and next fall or so, force the players to take a pitiful deal due to desperation.

  13. mistrezz;

    You are exactly correct. The players and their great leader the ambulance chaser only want to use the courts as their protector. Now if they are so worried about sitting down with the owners and truely negotiating, then it must mean they do not have much faith in their leader and committee.

    The players claim they are being so severly harmed by the lockout that they need the courts act quickly to help them, yet the players dont even show up for the hearing that they temselves requested.

    Several leaders and players have already let it slip that they decertified so they can sue in court. SHAM!
    The great ambulance chaser turned away George Martin and refuses to meet with him.

    The owners have met with Martin and have offered increased pension and benefits to retired players.

  14. They all need a good, swift kick in the a$$. Good for da judge. She may not be an Obamaite after all.

  15. NFLPA* and the owners are idiots, they’ll never get a deal done, it doesn’t matter how much time she gives them. There has to be a deadline. The two parties aren’t responsible enough to get this thing done…I think that’s become clear.

  16. A judge who is assigned to a given matter as the trial judge simply will not act as a formal mediator of a matter. But she doesn’t need to. She just needs both sides to know that the mediator she selects will report directly to her about how the mediation goes.

  17. Judge Nelson appears to be approaching this measured and rationality. As frustrating as it can be for fans, he muting the pointless and counter-productive posturing by both parties is good for the process, and imposing mediation is what both sides need, and in their hearts probably want.

    This is the best news in weeks, even if it doesn’t in and of itself resolve anything.

  18. Oh yes, mistrezzrachael, you are so right, the players never wanted to negotiate a new CBA. That’s why they spent months prior to the March decertification trying to get the owners to the bargaining table, to no avail. That’s why months ago they made a proposal to the owners that did not include opening the books and put their slice of the revenue pie back to 2002 levels, but the owners wanted none of it.

    Absolutely, the players wanted the lockout because they wanted to do without their paychecks for a season. Since the majority of players do not make multi-million-dollar salaries, and like most people, live on what they earn, they wanted to lose their incomes.

    I’ve enjoyed interacting with many intelligent, well-informed commenters whose views on the labor dispute happen to oppose mine. But you aren’t one of them. You’re just a mean-spirited person who wishes evil on players. You’ve now found a companion in the guy who tells everyone else to shut up and learn from him. Great. Now you can stop talking to me.

  19. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: Apr 10, 2011 7:42 PM

    With all due respect to Judge Babe Nelson, nothing will get accomplished in mediation. The league wants this case decided by the REAL justices in St. Louis. Again, with all due respect to madam Judge, this is a case that needs the experience of the men folk in St. Louie.
    ___________________
    Well, setting aside your blatant sexism for the moment, it seems you don’t realize how appellate courts actually function. It is not the duty of an appeals court to retry the initial case. Appeals courts listen to arguments concerning the way the initial case was handled. If the appeals court finds that the initial ruling was not within the scope of the judge’s authority, or that there was an error in the process that led to the original judgment, then the appellate court can set aside the original ruling or overturn it. Appellate courts are not, however, supposed to overturn a ruling simply because it’s not the ruling they would have rendered…unless of course that’s because they feel there was an error in the manner in which the statutes was applied. The odds of losing a case and winning an appeal are very low. That is, in part, because judge’s tend to go out of their way to avoid reversible rulings or orders. No one wants to have the higher ups publicly state that they messed up.

  20. “the players want the mediation to occur under the umbrella of the Brady antitrust litigation”

    If the Judge orders the mediation it doesn’t matter if it’s Cohen or not, it WILL be under said umbrella.

    Can’t be otherwise, can it?

  21. hitdog042 says: Apr 10, 2011 8:07 PM

    And people wonder why governors like John Kasich want to limit Union power.
    _______________________
    You might want to rethink your analogy, as this case involves a union dissolving as opposed to unions trying to protect their right to negotiate as a union. Btw, the politicians you speak of oppose unions because they support corporations, the same corporations that are shipping jobs overseas and claiming that their headquarters are located in a post office box in some small island nation to avoid paying taxes. Are some unions messed up? Yes, but so are some companies. Taking a stance that is so pro one side or the other tends to leave you defending people you’d despise if you actually fully considered your stance. It’s much better to consider each instance as what it is, a unique circumstance with its own unique factors.

  22. mistrezzrachael says: Apr 10, 2011 8:26 PM

    Am hoping that it is mediation for the CBA…The players wish to mediate the lawsuit, which is BS.

    People out here like DEB think that the players have wanted to negociate the CBA, they do not unless they hold the leverage of the lawsuit over the owners head.

    Get the CBA done…and there is no lawsuit…No CBA, and I hope the owners appeal, win, and next fall or so, force the players to take a pitiful deal due to desperation.
    _____________________________
    I get your point, but you’re missing two key points. The first is that there are no good or bad guys here, simply two parties angling for leverage in a negotiation. You point out that the players don’t want to negotiate the CBA itself until/unless they have some additional leverage from court rulings, but the owners are seeking the exact same leverage. In locking out the players, they are trying to make sure the negotiations occur during a war of attrition that they are better equipped to handle.

    The biggest misconception, however, is that CBA negotiations and litigation negotiations are inherently different. It’s mostly an issue of semantics, as litigation negotiations can come with the very guarantees that the owners want. For instance, the original anti-trust ruling in the Reggie White case may not have been pleasing to the owners, but it also required that the players re-form the union. So, there’s nothing preventing a re-forming of the union being a part of any litigation settlement. Such a deal would make sure that the NFL’s anti-trust exemptions returned, preventing any future anti-trust cases. The other big concern for the owners is making sure that the courts don’t have oversight over a new CBA. Again, it’s simply a matter of negotiating a deal that would put an arbitrator (one agreed upon by both sides) in an oversight position. So, if they really wanted to, the owners could engage in “litigation settlement talks” that resulted in a new CBA, a reformed players’ union, and no court oversight over the new agreement. Those are the very things the owners want from official CBA negotiations. The real reason the owners don’t want to do so is because they’re worried that the players have an advantage in the current court case, which would give them some leverage in the negotiations. If the players agreed to walk away from the courts to engage in negotiations, however, the leverage is almost solely in the hands of the owners.

  23. Here is exactly what will happen:

    Via mediation, the players will give up around 200 to 300 million dollars of revenue in exchange for improved health care benefits. The deal will be hailed as a great compromise yadda yadda yadda and we will, of course, have a full season.

    The end.

  24. This is an interesting development in that if either side shows any “bad faith” attitudes it could very well sway the judge on the injunction issue for the other side.

  25. Anything less than dismissal is, unfortunately, a victory for the players. Let’s hope the owners stay the course, and prevail ON THE MERITS by locking out the players – as is their right – until they can secure a fair deal that protects the game we love.

    That starts with sticking to their guns and opposing this sham decertification (a spade is a spade).

  26. I’m pretty sure mediation ordered by the judge would have to be at least partially under the umbrella of the anti-trust case. I would hazard a guess that it is one of the issues discussed in the Friday conference call, and possibly what Judge Nelson considered before ordering them back to mediation this week.

    It’s good news for those of us who are fans if the two sides get back to the table, with mediators who can force things along.

    I’m sure a statement will be issued shortly from NFLPA association claiming this is the worst mediation in the history of sports…

  27. tednancy says: Apr 11, 2011 8:53 AM

    Anything less than dismissal is, unfortunately, a victory for the players. Let’s hope the owners stay the course, and prevail ON THE MERITS by locking out the players – as is their right – until they can secure a fair deal that protects the game we love.

    That starts with sticking to their guns and opposing this sham decertification (a spade is a spade).
    ______________________
    I’m all for differences of opinion, and I love debating issues with people who think differently, but could you please explain some of your claims? You call the decertification of the players’ union a sham and state that the owners have a right to lock out the players as if these issues were established facts, yet you offer up no evidence to support those claims.

    As far as I know, workers have the right to form a union or dissolve it almost at will. I don’t remember hearing any statute stating that workers have the right to decertify a union, unless that decertification gives the workers an advantage in negotiations. Saying the only reason they decertified is to bring an anti-trust case is not proof that decertification is a sham, it simply means that the players know how to act in their own self interest.

    As for the lockout, that’s only justified if the courts believe that decertification is a sham, and that the union is still active as a union (rather than the trade association they say they currently are). Why? Because, if there is no union, the NFL has no counter-balancing force that would allow for anti-trust exemptions, and all 32 teams agreeing to lock the players out would certainly fit the definition of individual companies (which the Supreme Court has stated the NFL teams are) colluding to tamper with the market. That’s a clear anti-trust violation. The only way around that would be for the NFL to convince the government to redefine the NFL as one company with 32 sub-divisions, and that’s something they certainly don’t want to happen. That would make the NFL a monopoly, and under US law they’d have to be regulated by the federal government. No one wants that.

    So, it appears that you’ve taken a hard to prove claim (one that the sitting judge seems disinclined to agree with at present), and used that as the justification for a second hard to prove claim. Again, a lockout is only allowable if the NFL’s anti-trust exemptions remain fully in place. Those anti-trust exemptions can only remain fully in place if a counter-balance to the league’s power (like a players’ union) is in place to negotiate with the owners on an equal footing. Rather than being established facts, your claims are somewhat of a house of cards that can be tumbled if even one card is out of place.

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