BURBANK, CALIF. -- The union representing 2,800 striking NBC employes said Friday it is calling for an "outside professional mediator" to try to settle the seven-week-old walkout.

The proposal came as the result of a continuing disagreement between NBC and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians over the consolidation of contract issues in the strike, which began June 29, NABET officials said.

The union and NBC have not met at the bargaining table since July 23.

Thomas Kennedy, a member of the union negotiating committee, said NABET has complied with a request by federal mediators to streamline the key issues by reducing them from "between 250 and 300" to just 51.

"{But} each time we take our proposals to the table it seems like the company insists on the original {contract} package, and that's what we don't like," Kennedy said at a news conference at NABET Local 53's offices.

NBC spokesman Jay Rodriguez confirmed that NBC had received a telegram from the union notifying the network about the proposal for a professional mediator.

"We will be giving it our full consideration because we, of course, want to explore any appropriate possibilities of resolving the dispute," Rodriguez said. "We will be getting back to NABET once we have reached a conclusion."

The panel, in the telegram sent to NBC in New York, unanimously recommended five potential mediators:

Archibald Cox, former Watergate special prosecutor and professor of labor law at Harvard University.

David Feller, law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Joseph Grodin, former associate justice of the California Supreme Court. Grodin failed to win a second term during the November election.

Sam Kagel, author of numerous articles on the role of arbitration and mediation in labor relations.

William Usery, former U.S. labor secretary.

Kennedy said telegrams also were sent to the five men and that no responses had been received as of late Friday