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NBA, players' union head to mediation next week

October 12, 2011 |  5:35 pm

Billy Hunter, head of the National Basketball Players Assn., told a New York radio station that a mediator has been summoned to the next meeting between NBA owners and locked-out players.

The mediator is George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service who mediated in the NFL labor dispute earlier this year. Cohen told the Associated Press the meeting will be Tuesday, although Hunter said the sides will meet on Monday.

"We are working on scheduling a meeting for early next week," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

A basketball official told The Times the mediator's presence was not related to opposing complaints the sides have filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

In an e-mail Wednesday, Cohen wrote: “For a number of months I have participated in separate, informal, off-the-record discussions with the principals representing the NBA and the NBPA concerning ... their collective bargaining negotiations.  It is evident that the ongoing dispute will result in a serious impact, not only upon the parties directly involved, but ... more generally, on the economy of every city in which those games are scheduled to be played.

"In these circumstances, the Agency has invited, and the parties have agreed, to convene further negotiations under my auspices. The meetings will commence in New York City on Tuesday."

The NBA locked out the players on July 1, and on Monday after the last negotiating session failed to produce a new contract the league canceled the first two weeks of regular-season games through Nov. 14.

Hunter and union president Derek Fisher of the Lakers are scheduled to meet with players Friday in Los Angeles to update them on negotiations.


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-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: NBA Players Assn. executive director Billy Hunter. Credit: David Karp / Associated Press