Though the return of football (at least the non-real version of it) has nudged the labor drama into the shadows, the problem continues to softly boil.
And with the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players due to expire in March 2011, the NFL Players Association has placed the NFL’s sponsors on notice.
According to Liz Mullen and Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the union’s marketing arm has informed league sponsors that, with the expiration of the CBA, the ability to use the names and likenesses of the players will expire, too.
The current Sponsorship Agreement, which exists separate and apart from the CBA, expires on March 4, 2011. As Mullen and Kaplan point out, the Sponsorship Agreement came eight long years after the current CBA was negotiated.
In theory, the Sponsorship Agreement could be renewed separately from the CBA. But we doubt that the NFLPA would be interested in striking the sponsorship deal without also reaching a broader CBA agreement. Instead, the union looks to be using the evaporation of the Sponsorship Agreement as leverage for a new labor deal.
The letter invites the NFL sponsors to negotiate with Players Inc. with an eye toward working out separate contracts, in the event the CBA and the Sponsorship Agreement expire.
So while the letter from the union is addressed to the NFL’s sponsors, the union seems to be letting the NFL know that the players are prepared for whatever may happen once the CBA goes away.