Mike Florio disagrees. He says he really doesn't believe it's possible that the NFL and the NFLPA are sticking with their current round of federal mediation only because leaving it is politically impossible right now -- that the act of walking out would be used by the other side in what is beginning to be a discussion with the NLRB over an unfair labor practice charge filed by the owners.
Of course they can legally leave any time they want. The mediation is, indeed, voluntary -- just as it was in the 1981 baseball strike that I covered, and the 1982 football strike that I covered, and the 1987 football strike that I covered. It's right there in every story written about mediation -- that it is voluntary.
But the politics are different. The reality is different. And I really believe that there is no way either side can leave the table unilaterally right now, even if they aren't making any/much progress. There is no way, for instance, that the NFL -- which, in its NLRB filing, has just charged the union with all manner of dithering -- can walk out while the union is willing to hang in and talk. How could they then make their argument to the NLRB?