Decertification talk is simply part of the leverage play


Saturday’s report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter regarding the union’s plan to decertify by March 4 should be regarded in the same light as his report from Friday’s agent meeting that the league and the NFLPA aren’t close to reaching agreement on a single issue, and that the labor dispute “WILL go into September.”

And that light is leverage.

With five days until the current labor deal expires, the league’s leverage remains the launching of a lockout if a deal isn’t done by March 4.  And the union’s only leverage — for now — arises from decertification, a strategy that if successful would block a lockout and guarantee the continuation of football while the two sides settle their differences in court.  The union can’t waver now on its plan to decertify, just as the league can’t waver now on its plan to lock the players out.

Put simply, the concept of nuclear deterrence doesn’t work unless the two sides have big-ass missiles pointed at each other.

So as the parties prepare to reconvene Tuesday, they both realize that their ability to negotiate the best possible deal disappears if the opponent doesn’t believe that the worst-case scenario is ready to be deployed.  The union knows the league will impose a lockout, and the league knows the union will try to block a lockout with decertification.

One side or both sides could be bluffing.  But that doesn’t matter at this point.  Each side has pulled back its jacket to reveal the gun tucked into their respective waistbands.  Reading anything more than that into the situation at this point would be premature at best, inaccurate at worst.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be a lockout or that there won’t be decertification.  The question for now is whether enough progress can be made Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to prompt the two sides to agree to push back the moment at which the labor agreement expires.  Though it would be virtually impossible to hammer out a new deal by 12:01 a.m. on Friday, it’s possible (even if not probable) that they’ll decide to give the process more time.

Even as they continue to show each other that they have guns, and that they’re ready to use them if they have to.

11 responses to “Decertification talk is simply part of the leverage play

  1. Thanks for the explanation. I rarely comment on these articles at this point because the situation is so fluid as the clock ticks down. Besides, thinking about it makes my head explode. It’s inconceivable that the two sides can’t see what’s been happening to the global economy for the last few years and realize the potential backlash if the 2011 season is delayed or suspended. As the adage says, fools and their money are soon parted.

  2. So after all of that about the “guns in their waistbands” you believe that one of them will throw their gun on the floor? That’s what either side would be doing if they asked the other to extend the deadline. That will not happen, there has to be a “midnight” in the negotiations, and pushing it back doesn’t do any good. Neither side will budge until “midnight” is here.

  3. The Owners haven’t even been at the negotiations, only their employees. They want the CBA system to expire.
    If the Owners push the date, it will only be to see if the Players start to break ranks.

  4. When you think about it, the biggest partner in all this doesn’t even have a seat at the table….. and thats the fans. We pay out every single cent those guys make. In one form or another it comes from our pockets. Thanks guys.

  5. If I could suggest anything (which is sure to go unnoticed/laughed at) I would suggest putting a table together that explains everything side by side. The columns would be what happens in the event of a lockout, decertification, nothing, etc. The rows would be certain dates. This would help explain things to us lazy fans who have a hard time staying awake keeping up with all this information.

  6. the options seem to be…

    lockout. no season. people without much $ get to save it or spend it elsewhere.

    lockout. scabs. life goes on with perhaps fewer fans.

    true decertification. no union. bye, duh. life goes on.

    faux decertification. duh exposed as swindler. see u in court, osamabama clone.

    agreement. back to business as usual (bau).

  7. Correct me if I am wrong. A decertified union means no salary cap and a free agent is truly a free agent and capable of signing a contract for any amount without salary cap ramifications.

    If that is true how much is some rich, white billionaire willing to pay for Payton Manning for three years (with the idea that they are buying a coveted Super Bowl championship)?

    3 years @ $100 million?
    5 years @ $200 million?

    Name a price.

  8. Decertification is an empty threat. The League will easy block it with the NLRB by arguing that it is a sham decertification. It won’t be difficult to prove, given that the union pulled the same stunt 20 years ago – decertification, following by instant recertification.

    I understand why the union wants the courts and/or Congress to fight their battles for them, but when that doesn’t work, they will eventually have to get back to the bargaining table and make a deal. Yes, they are going to have make significant concessions, and that’s never a lot of fun to explain to the membership. They are fooling themselves, though, if they believe that some third party is going to save them from having to negotiate with the owners. At the end of the day, this gets solved in the boardroom, not in court or on the floor of Congress.

  9. They decertified about 20 yrs ago so they could sue over antitrust to settle new free agency rules and won.

    Antitrust is to prevent a group of cos from forming a cartel or trust to fix prices but it seems like a group can’t also enforce rules to fix costs on seperate entities some cases which is odd. I don’t see any new huge cost issues like free agency this time around though.

    They should just decertify the union and turn this into a true franchiser-franchisee business. Then each franchise operates on an employer-employee basis, w a salary cap and other rules set by the franchiser (league) and get away from all this collective bargaining and legal nonsense.

  10. commandercornpone: under the rules of the current CBA, the owners can’t bring scabs in during a lockout. We would have nothing to watch besides college and, maybe UFL games, all season long. Wether that’s better or worse, we may learn. I have heard that scab games were infinitely better than Leno or Letterman could ever hope to be. Maybe I’ll watch some on YouTube this week.

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