The saga that is the labor negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA took an unexpected turn Thursday when ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the league has requested the help of a federal mediator to help resolve the lockout.
Major League Baseball today requested immediate assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the sport’s lockout, sources told ESPN. Under their request, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would help assist with the proceedings.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 3, 2022
The Athletic’s Evan Drellich confirmed the report and added that the Players Association would have to agree to the mediation as it is a voluntary process.
Sources confirm: MLB has asked for federal mediation in bargaining talks. Would have to be agreed to by Players Association. It is a voluntary process. First reported @JeffPassan— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 3, 2022
This isn’t the first time a federal mediator got involved in baseball labor negotiations. In 1994 President Clinton appointed Will Usery to mediate talks in hopes of ending the strike. The 1994 World Series was cancelled a month later and a resolution wasn’t agreed upon until seven months later. The NBA used a federal mediator during their lockout in October of 2011. Both sides came to an agreement in early December.
While this could spur talks, it could also drag the process out if the union elects to go along with it. Both sides would have been better served not waiting 40 some odd days to actually start discussions after the lockout was put in place. It is rather telling that ownership is throwing its hands up now when there has been a distinct lack of good faith negotiations on their part.
The MLBPA will likely respond to this soon and we will update the article when we have further information.
UPDATE - Another solid example of good faith negotiations on the part of the league.
Sources: MLB has told the MLBPA it will not make a counter offer after MLB two days ago saying it would.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 3, 2022
Quotes from Don Fehr on mediation in 1994-95.
Former MLBPA head Don Fehr, in 2019, on mediation in 1994-95: "It was a joke. It had no value. And there were all kind of agendas at work in the mediation that had nothing to do with the agendas of the parties trying to resolve the dispute.” Manfred below https://t.co/m4LqU25yF5 pic.twitter.com/yO247XYYgq— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 3, 2022