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Drafting documents is no replacement for face-to-face meetings

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I’m glad that NFL spokesman Greg Aiello seems to be sensitive to the perception that the NFL and NFLPA* negotiators and lawyers are spending the weekend sipping poolside margaritas.  If Aiello is sensitive to that perception, there’s a good chance the folks for whom he works are sensitive to it, too.  Which increases the likelihood that both sides will be ready to bust their butts come Tuesday, when negotiations resume.

Until then, I’ll save the oohs and ahhs for the fireworks.  So what if the lawyers are drafting documents this weekend?  Trading e-mails with attached Word files is an entirely different animal than meeting face-to-face, away from family and friends and home.

Lawyers live for turning the meter on and tinkering with language.  They can even do it while sipping poolside margaritas.

So, yes, it would be better if the parties were actually meeting in person.  While drafting documents is better than nothing, it’s far closer to nothing on the sliding scale of hard work and personal inconvenience than staying in Minnesota and working directly and in person with the other side to reach an agreement.

Here’s hoping both sides will prove that a deal can still be reached this week even though they opted not to work this weekend.

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15 Responses to “Drafting documents is no replacement for face-to-face meetings”
  1. 7370355q says: Jul 2, 2011 4:50 PM

    Boom

  2. cletusvandam says: Jul 2, 2011 4:57 PM

    These are the same morons who when they finally did start meeting to negotiate a month ago could only be bothered to do so 2 times a week.
    It has become abundantly clear that neither side cares about the fans, or is really concerned with getting a deal done anytime soon.

  3. gentbaseball12 says: Jul 2, 2011 5:07 PM

    Mike give it a rest. In order for there to be a CBA, you actually have to draft the damn thing. Not to mention there has to be documents filed in court and a settlement approved since it is a class action lawsuit, not a CBA negotiation. This isn’t like a typical CBA where you can agree in principle and then work out the fine points later.

  4. ssiebig says: Jul 2, 2011 5:12 PM

    Mike, I think you’re way off on this. “Tinkering with language,” as you put it, isn’t a billable hour generating time-waster. Drafting language is an absolutely necessary part — to my mind, *the* most important part — of collective bargaining. And it’s hard work (unless you do a crappy job, as do many collective bargaining professionals).
    As a lawyer, you should know more clearly than most that the end product of collective bargaining is a written contract relflecting the parties’ agreement. It’s nice and all if parties agree “in concept” to something. If they can’t reduce that something to writing, with ambiguities resolved and foreseeable consequences addressed, “conceptual agreement” means jack squat.
    My experience in collective bargaining has been that people waste way too much time kvetching to each other at the main table and invest way too little time expressing what they want in writing so the other party can evaluate and discuss.
    If the parties are at work over the weekend drafting at language, maybe that means they’ve gotten past conceptual discussion on issues and are down to “brass tacks.” Rather than thinking that this is a bad development, as you conclude, this could mean that the parties are actually getting past concept and to substance.

  5. ICDogg says: Jul 2, 2011 5:22 PM

    Meetings are overrated. Some people like to meet all the time, other people like to get stuff done.

  6. scytherius says: Jul 2, 2011 5:26 PM

    Have you people EVER negotiated anything complex? This isn’t just sitting in a room and locking the doors like a teenage lock-in. You just don’t spend lots and lots of time face to face as it is practically too complex to do that.

    Some of the comments on this issue show an utter lack of understanding the basics of any of this.

  7. waccoforflacco says: Jul 2, 2011 5:31 PM

    If they would meet non-stop they would have an agreement TOO EARLY. July 15th isn’t here yet.

  8. blantoncollier says: Jul 2, 2011 6:07 PM

    I realize most people have something better to do than read pft on a holiday weekend. But lets be real, read the post. the lawyers are drafting documents, putting words on paper that the parties have agreed to. If Aiello is telling the truth, thats called real legal progress. Even if the document drafts are about issues they settled weeks ago, even months ago, its putting the agreements in writing.

  9. ralphshere says: Jul 2, 2011 6:09 PM

    It is good that they are working diligently. [not basking in the Holiday weekend]

    In negotiations trade-offs occur, especially with the smaller or even ancillary items. So, getting those formatted, i’s dotted…t’s crossed, in advance- fosters an environment wherein the heavy hitters can focus all the more on big picture/crucial items- knowing what trickle down ramifications are involved. Taking care of the small potatoes in advance ought aid streamlining resolution.

    Hope both sides are earnestly employed currently and therefore, ever more prepared to hit the ground running in now only 65 hours or so.

  10. vetdana says: Jul 2, 2011 6:15 PM

    Continued ” Smoke and Mirrors” ! Both sides are not possessed with ANY since of urgency nor are they willing to move very far off of the REVENUE concerns that have derailed this whole labor dispute, from the beginning ! Until they are willing to compromise on revenue…there will be no deal, no CBA and no season ! PERIOD !!! …forget about this working hard to make a deal… nonsense !

  11. rcali says: Jul 2, 2011 6:21 PM

    Owners just don’t want to miss those preseason games. Sorry sucker season ticket holders.

  12. jw731 says: Jul 3, 2011 8:37 AM

    You my be the only human alive who could find fault with “sitting by the poolside” drinking margaritas….Did you really expect the parties involved to suddenly care about what any fan thinks?….Have you been paying attention at all?

  13. dccowboy says: Jul 3, 2011 9:00 AM

    “Lawyers live for turning the meter on and tinkering with language. They can even do it while sipping poolside margaritas.”

    Speaking from personal experience, Mike?

  14. CKL says: Jul 3, 2011 10:25 AM

    I doubt it dc…..

    …..I have MF pegged for a martini guy. ;)

  15. Derty Ernie says: Jul 3, 2011 10:29 AM

    If the lawyers are drafting language then there must be a tentative agreement in place that no one is mentioning.
    Both parties will review the agreements, present there side and if everything is agreed to, its a done deal, class action suit is dropped and the courts are out of it.
    I would not be surprised if this was the case. Teams could be in practice mode by next weekend.

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