News of the start of mediation could be a positive sign after several months of infrequent negotiations _ and frequent rhetoric, including charges from each side that the other was hoping for a work stoppage.
The league and union went more than two months without holding any formal bargaining sessions, until a meeting Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl. The sides met again once last week but called off a second meeting that had been scheduled for the following day.
The most recent CBA was signed in 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.
The biggest issue separating the sides is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues. Among the other significant points in negotiations: the owners’ push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; a rookie wage scale; and benefits for retired players.
Cohen was involved in Major League Soccer’s negotiations with its players’ union last year, when a possible work stoppage was avoided.
He was the baseball players' association’s lead lawyer in federal court in 1995, when the National Labor Relations Board obtained an injunction against owners from then-District Judge _ and now Supreme Court Justice _ Sonia Sotomayor that led players to end their 7 1/2-month strike.
The FMCS was involved in negotiations during the 2004-05 NHL lockout, and a 2005 dispute between the U.S. Soccer Federation and its players.
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