Collective bargaining, now with urgency

David Stern is talking about collective bargaining again, and is taking lessons from football. The Associated Press reports:

Stern believes football's labor situation, which he called a "mess," was worsened by a lack of urgency to get a deal done well before its collective bargaining agreement expired, something he wants to avoid as his league tries to negotiate a new deal with its players.

"It seemed that at the end of the bargaining between the NFL and the players, one got the sense that in the last day or two they had closed the gap," Stern said Thursday. "I don't know if that's accurate or not, but that's what I read. And you wonder as an outsider whether it would have been a good thing to close that gap a few days earlier, a couple of weeks earlier so that you had the opportunity and the plan to do that."

Later in the same article his deputy, Adam Silver, makes more very clear points about the value of speed.

This comes on the heels of the NBA promising to go next in delivering a proposal to the players.

If the past is a guide, there will be no deal until the NBA works through the preliminaries and gets down to its real, and best, offer. No one knows when that day will come. However, the tone is shifting away from "softening up the players with scary talk" and toward actual negotiations.

Having spoken to the central figures at some length in the past few weeks, I'll predict that precisely zero regular season games will be lost to a lockout next fall.

I don't say that because of these quotes above, nor out a belief that either side lacks the spine to head into a lockout. I say that because:

  • The future holds great things for both parties if the league maintains something like its current relationship with fans,

  • Both sides recognize the real long- and short-term costs of a lockout,

  • And because both sides strike me as pragmatic enough to sign on the dotted line should a reasonable deal be placed before them.