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NFL Labor Talks Mediator Is Down In The Trenches

Publication Date: 
March 05, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Sam Farmer

Professor William B. Gould IV shared his expertise on the process of mediation in sports league labor conflicts. The Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer wrote the following story on the NFL's labor negotiations:

The fragile future of the country's most successful sports league is being shaped in a blockish, brown building on the corner of K and 21st streets in the nation's capital. That's where pro football's labor negotiations are taking place.

There, at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, the NFL has taken over one floor, and the NFL Players Assn. another.

Each side has a headquarters on its floor, cramped rooms filled with papers and computer terminals. People constantly bustle in and out, giving the stuffy confines the feel of a campaign office.

The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to push the collective bargaining deadline back a week, until Friday turns to Saturday on the East Coast, in hopes that their differences can be resolved through mediation. They resume Monday for their 12th day of talks.


"The parties couldn't be in better hands," said Stanford law professor William Gould, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board who has known Cohen since they were young NLRB lawyers in the 1960s. "This is a guy who brings an awful lot in terms of knowledge and temperament to the table."


"Mediation can be anything," Gould said, "all the way from carrying the coffee back and forth to the parties and sitting there like a bump on a log and listening, to actively proposing settlements and answers."


Gould, who has worked as a mediator and wrote the soon-to-be-released book "Bargaining With Baseball," said the process of holding the parties together can be "exhausting" and that it's not uncommon "to look up from your work and it's 6 in the morning with the sun rising."