By CAITLIN MURRAY
The negotiations between Major League Soccer and its players have apparently reached an impasse and outside help is being called in.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has been jointly requested to help steer collective bargaining agreement talks between the league and the MLS Players Union, ESPN reported on Thursday.
The decision to bring in federal mediators, something MLS Commissioner Don Garber hinted was coming last week, suggests that the two sides at the table are still far away from reaching an agreement.
Federal mediators declined to specify when they entered the negotiation process or provide details of future meetings, but confirmed they “have begun the mediation process in the negotiations between the parties.”
Federal mediators were called in to help with MLS negotiation in 2010 and played a key role in reaching an agreement. This time around, however, player free agency has become a major point of contention, with both sides seemingly far apart on the issue.
“Our system is one that our owners fought hard to protect,” Garber said last week. “It’s one that they bought into, particularly the new owners who have bought into the league, and that’s that our owners will not bid against each other for player services. And that’s a key aspect of our entire system.”
Garber’s comments sat in sharp contrast to those from MLS Players Union executive director Bob Foose, who said player free agency was necessary for an agreement.
“There is no negotiation going on at this point with regard to free agency,” Foose said the week before Garber’s comments about free agency. “That makes it impossible to get a deal done. If that’s going to stay the same, I certainly don’t see a deal getting done.”
The addition of a federal mediator means an outside party will join negotiations as a neutral observer and serve as a liaison between parties. Both the league and the players union have hinted a work stoppage is possible.
The current CBA expired two weeks ago and if a new one isn’t in place before the season begins in March, a work stoppage could happen.
What do you think of this latest development? Is it a positive sign or a bad one that a federal mediator has joined the discussion? How would you like to see negotiations resolved?
Share your thoughts below.