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Report: League will lock players out even if union decertifies

GoodellSmithCongress AP

The final step in the NFL’s strategy against the union entails locking the players out, thereby depriving the players and the fans of football.  The NFLPA’s final step entails decertifying in the hopes of blocking a lockout, thereby ensuring that football will continue, for the players and the fans.

For fans, the union’s strategy is far more appealing.

But it won’t be that easy, especially since the owners reportedly plan to try to impose a lockout even if the players decertify, according to Daniel Kaplan and Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.

At that point, it wouldn’t be a lockout.  It would be the NFL going out of business.

“If the union decertifies, it is not really correct to call it a ‘lockout,'” Gary Roberts, a former outside counsel for the league told SportsBusiness Journal.  “As soon as you don’t have a union, it’s an employer ceasing operations.”

Some think that shutting the doors to a non-union work force would amount to an antitrust violation.

The easier path for the league would be to fight decertification as a sham.  Two weeks ago, the NFL commenced that process by filing a claim before the National Labor Relations Board that the union isn’t bargaining in good faith because it wants to decertify, wait for the NFL to impose rules on behalf of 32 separate businesses, and file an antitrust lawsuit attacking those rules.

As SportsBusiness Journal points out, the process that the NFLPA would use technically is known as a “disclaimer of interest” by union leadership.  Basically, the folks paid to run the union would walk away, making the union not a union any longer.  It’s a gun that may have only one bullet, however; the fact that the union pulled the maneuver in the late 1980s before reformulating after the antitrust lawsuit supports a conclusion that union leadership is walking away for tactical reasons only, and that they fully intend to resume their duties once a new labor deal is finalized.

And . . . now you can wake up.

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50 Responses to “Report: League will lock players out even if union decertifies”
  1. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 28, 2011 7:15 PM

    The owners have decided to pick up their ball and go home.

    ” It would be the NFL going out of business.”

    At this point, go ahead.

  2. hooterdawg says: Feb 28, 2011 7:18 PM

    One question I ponder is whether Roger Goodell will be the scapegoat for a lockout. Just how much will the NFLPA , the owners, and the public hold him responsible for the NFL strategy that has resulted in the current impasse. Will a condition of a new CBA be the removal of Goodell as the czar who has been instrumental in creating the current rift? Perhaps Goodell has not been the right man for the job of negotiating a clever deal with labor long before this.

  3. cappa662 says: Feb 28, 2011 7:19 PM

    Sucks, I thought decertification meant a season in 2011. Greedy owners.

  4. jamie54 says: Feb 28, 2011 7:20 PM

    Since they would be ‘decertifying’ in name only I would presume De Smith would continue on with a sham title of some sort like an outside consultant hired by the players? Weird but don’t think that one will work out as planned.

  5. jc1958cool says: Feb 28, 2011 7:34 PM

    so the owners aren’t doing the same thing? lock them out and say there is no football! then change your mind if you get an agreement!
    change the law this is retard against retard!

  6. hobartbaker says: Feb 28, 2011 7:34 PM

    Then the former union will reconvene as the National Football League Palyers Association.

  7. dolphan343 says: Feb 28, 2011 7:36 PM

    “For fans, the union’s strategy is far more appealing.”

    What strategy? You mean Smiths idea of stubbornly clenching his fists and forcing everything to drag on this far? The union has been trying to force the negotiations this way the whole time instead of negotiating. They filed how many suits?

  8. scudbot says: Feb 28, 2011 7:38 PM

    The nuclear option. Fine; let them blow the hell out of everything, screw over the people and make lawyers rich; it’s the new American way. Clearly the NFL and some team owners are abrogating their responsibilities as the prime custodians of a beloved American institution. I’m not too happy with the union, either. Screw ‘em. I may never come back.

  9. bcirej says: Feb 28, 2011 7:39 PM

    Don’t know if I have this straight or not, but if the union decertifies, what we have are a couple hundred players who are not under contract who will be looking for employment at any of the 32 businesses which have a need for their services. No bargaining agreement means that those businesses have no rules they have to follow except for the federal labor law. Just like regular employers with all the US citizens looking for work. There will be no several hundred thousand dollar minimum, no mandatory millions for X-number years, no union to go crying to if not treated “fairly”, and on and on with the same things people face when trying to find a job.

    I think the players have played right into the NFL’s hands. Why have “discussions” when there is no union to discuss with? The players are all now just individuals looking for work.

  10. hawks12 says: Feb 28, 2011 7:42 PM

    rich people fighting over money its bloody pathetic.. the fans are the only ones losing out.. the league and union are both scum

  11. ajtexans says: Feb 28, 2011 7:42 PM

    Wake me when there’s an agreement.

  12. jleimer says: Feb 28, 2011 7:48 PM

    I am a little confused here, if the NFLPA decertifies and the owners put in a lockout would it essentially mean the NFL is folding up shop because according to what Gary Roberts says if the NFL does not have a union essentially the business is dead depending on what happens in the courts. If this is true then the biggest league in America has gone bankrupt.

  13. chapnastier says: Feb 28, 2011 7:49 PM

    I really don’t think you grasp the idea of the situation. How is the league/owners locking out union employees who refuse to come to an agreement on a CBA? I mean you blame it all on the owners which is absurd. The fault is 50/50 and until you realize it and begin to write without a clear bias, I think you should stop.

  14. stanklepoot says: Feb 28, 2011 7:50 PM

    Mike, the league filed the same complaint with the NLRB when Upshaw decertified the union back in the 90s. They failed to prevent a decertification. Unions can form or dissolve at any time, for whatever reason. Trying to stop them from decertifying is like a D.A. trying to stop a suspect from waiving his right to remain silent because he fears he might mislead the authorities or the jury. A suspect has the right to talk or not, just as workers have the right to unionize or not. Their reasons for those decisions have no affect on their right to do so. The real reason the league wants to stop decertification is that they know it will lead to an anti-trust lawsuit, and the league has a horrible track record with those. On top of which, any such lawsuit would likely be filed in Minnesota and end up in front of Judge Doty, which the league absolutely does not want to see.

  15. amuzed2dth says: Feb 28, 2011 7:56 PM

    Do you really think any company in America wants to bust up a labor union?
    C’mon, you must be pulling my leg.
    Next thing your going to tell me is some state is going to outlaw labor unions.

  16. iknowfootballandyoudont says: Feb 28, 2011 7:56 PM

    Hopefully there will be a looooong work stoppage. Hell I hope they cancel the full 2011 season. Maybe then the fans will realize they have better options to spend their money on rather than feeding the rich owners, who in turn feed the soiled rich athletes partially with fans money.
    Hopefully when play resumes attendance will be down drastically forcing owners to reduce ticket prices to reasonable amounts and appreciating the bread and butter of their business.
    The league can only rely on TV and sponser money to a certain point. The real cash cow for the owners and players are fans, the TRUE fans. Ya know the ones who spend thousands on season tickets and even single game tickets, and buy the jerseys and items with team logos and player names on them.
    Stay at home for one season, dont buy any NFL merchandise, then the league and players will finally “get it”

  17. 3octaveFart says: Feb 28, 2011 7:58 PM

    dolphan343 says: Feb 28, 2011 7:36 PM

    “The union has been trying to force the negotiations this way the whole time instead of negotiating.”

    Then blame the owners. They’re the ones keeping quiet through all this and not negotiating. They have no intention of negotiating.
    They’re just watching the clock and counting their money.

  18. Burritto says: Feb 28, 2011 8:03 PM

    Intelligent and well written. Thanks.

  19. scytherius says: Feb 28, 2011 8:07 PM

    Antitrust here we come.

  20. crubenst says: Feb 28, 2011 8:14 PM

    In the real world when a someone goes “out of business” a new business opens up. So how about some rich guys jump in and start a new football league once the NFL goes “out of business” and offer all the players a sweet deal to play for them, say 70% of all the revenue. I’ll run a team but I’ll need some financial partners, I’ve got about $125 to chip in.

  21. getweird4u says: Feb 28, 2011 8:19 PM

    In most sports i would say a 60%player 40% owner split is crazy but in the nfl where guys cant walk ,kill themselves and develop a laundry list of life altering problems cant say i side with the owners here,plus most of the stadiums are funded through local and sometimes state wide tax’s.I think 50-50 with the league stepping up its healthcare for retired players and unfortunately an 18 game schedule is what we are headed for.But not until this season is already somewhat damaged and when they do get on the field it will not be up to par.

  22. tinopuno says: Feb 28, 2011 8:24 PM

    chapnastier says: Feb 28, 2011 7:49 PM

    I really don’t think you grasp the idea of the situation. How is the league/owners locking out union employees who refuse to come to an agreement on a CBA? I mean you blame it all on the owners which is absurd. The fault is 50/50 and until you realize it and begin to write without a clear bias, I think you should stop.

    —————————————————-

    This is an example of the NFL’s genius strategy to garner fan support. Hire a lackey or two to post deceptive nonsense on football web sites.

    BRILLIANT!!!

  23. thefiesty1 says: Feb 28, 2011 8:26 PM

    Kill the goose that layer the golden egg! They can’t see the forest for the trees. The NFL and the PA deserve each other. The longer this drags out everyone loses, especially the fans.

  24. burntorangehorn says: Feb 28, 2011 8:41 PM

    hooterdawg–Goodell wasn’t so instrumental in creating the rift. That falls on Paul Tagliabue, who himself said that the voided CBA wasn’t meant to last.

  25. birdobeamen says: Feb 28, 2011 8:43 PM

    I still got college football — screw’em.

  26. goldsteel says: Feb 28, 2011 8:45 PM

    March 5 cannot come soon enough for me. Perhaps then all the posturing and displays of manliness will have subsided. As far as I’m concerned both sides are wasting time. This isn’t negotiating when the outcome was already known months ago. Roger Goodell is just part of the Kabuki theater. Less important than he would like to believe.

    2010, the last year of football?

  27. realitypolice says: Feb 28, 2011 8:45 PM

    amuzed2dth says:
    Feb 28, 2011 7:56 PM
    Do you really think any company in America wants to bust up a labor union?
    C’mon, you must be pulling my leg.
    Next thing your going to tell me is some state is going to outlaw labor unions.
    =====================

    What state could you be referring to? Certainly not Wisconsin, because no one has introduced a bill that there even suggests outlawing unions.

    Unless, of course, you have no idea what is really going on there, in which case maybe you are referring to that state.

  28. chedberg says: Feb 28, 2011 8:58 PM

    First Rome, then the US of A, and now the NFL.

    It was a good run guys, hope you enjoyed it.

    Isn’t the Arena League getting ready to start?

  29. edhochuli says: Feb 28, 2011 8:58 PM

    Am I the only one that wants to punch my computer screen when I see that picture of Goodell and Smith looking like stubborn idiots?

  30. commandercornpone says: Feb 28, 2011 9:05 PM

    agree, tags’ fault. he just wanted to clear the decks before he left, no matter the carnage.

    duh thinks the union can decertify then he can still run it behind the scenes, or in front of the curtain for that matter, then get reselected as union head.

    once they decertify and small salary players start signing, the union will go another direction.

    there will probly be scab ball.

  31. rcali says: Feb 28, 2011 9:29 PM

    C-Ya in September! Assume lots of blackouts though.

  32. scudbot says: Feb 28, 2011 9:45 PM

    July 22, 2011. The National Football League Inc. and the National Football League Players Association today announced that they had merged into The National Football Corporation and declared bankruptcy. Details are sketchy but the new entity issued a press release saying that unless it received $43 billion via no interest guaranteed loans by August 18, there would be no football in 2011 and for the foreseeable future. The new venture has already canceled the preseason slate scheduled to being August 11.

  33. scudbot says: Feb 28, 2011 9:48 PM

    Ah, screw the typo. Even the football guys are hosing me over now. Vodka time.

  34. lichnor says: Feb 28, 2011 9:54 PM

    How fitting….The Packers won the very first Super Bowl ……and now they have won the very last.

  35. prior0knowledge says: Feb 28, 2011 9:54 PM

    If the union decertifies, doesn’t that mean that union leadership would no longer be drawing a salary? And who would the NFL negotiate with then?

  36. stanklepoot says: Feb 28, 2011 10:20 PM

    chapnastier says: Feb 28, 2011 7:49 PM

    I really don’t think you grasp the idea of the situation. How is the league/owners locking out union employees who refuse to come to an agreement on a CBA? I mean you blame it all on the owners which is absurd. The fault is 50/50 and until you realize it and begin to write without a clear bias, I think you should stop.
    ______________________
    Not really an issue of fault, simply legal definition. Many (actually most) players in the NFL are still under contract, CBA or no. If they show up ready to work it means that they are honoring their contracts. The league, however, seems intent to literally lock them out of the facilities and cancel all team activities. That’s how this classifies as a lockout. The CBA defines many aspects of the player/league relationship, but it is not the only determining factor. In fact, at one point there was a period of something like 5 or 6 years where the NFL was up and running with no CBA at all. If the players are under contract and willing to fulfill their end of the bargain and the owners refuse to uphold their end or let the players do the same, then it’s a lockout. We can debate who will be most to blame (both sides in my opinion), but the question of who will be responsible for the lack of football activities (training and possibly games if it goes on long enough) isn’t debatable. It will be the owners who shut down football this time around, just as it was the players in the 80s when they went on strike.

  37. hooterdawg says: Feb 28, 2011 10:39 PM

    When will they hold the Replacements draft?

  38. bobbyd12 says: Feb 28, 2011 10:48 PM

    Know what is going to happen? Either the Pre-Season games will be cancelled and a deal will get done OR the Season gets canned. Either way, after that, people will flock back to the NFL and it will be bigger then ever. There will no be strikes by fans, people won’t stay away, everyone knows it. Always big talk from the fans but in reality, we have no control and will be right back the minute they hit the field. Were suckers who love the game, get over it.

  39. azelli1 says: Feb 28, 2011 10:54 PM

    Lock them out. When they can afford a league, they can pay themselves whatever they’d like. Until then, they should be thankful to get paid. Good thing they can all go get jobs with their college degrees.

  40. dkrause71 says: Feb 28, 2011 11:11 PM

    In the real world when a someone goes “out of business” a new business opens up. So how about some rich guys jump in and start a new football league once the NFL goes “out of business” and offer all the players a sweet deal to play for them, say 70% of all the revenue. I’ll run a team but I’ll need some financial partners, I’ve got about $125 to chip in.
    ————————————————-
    And where are you going to play smart guy? In a parking lot? Teams do have other expenses besides just paying the players. You have the football staffs such as the coaches/GM/Scouts, the business side of it such as advertising/accountants, whether or not you even own the stadium which if you do not- is money out of your revenues. Any debt and interest on buying the stadiums, practice fields, etc.

    Also, you want a return on investment. If your blowing 500M to 1B on a product, you actually expect to get something in return. Green Bay which is the only team we know the financial on i believe claimed a 10M profit. That is a 2% return if you paid 500M for you team. WOW- where do i sign to get a 2% return.

    I get being for the players or the owners. Just remember the owner isn’t sitting there with the 40% of the total going into his pocket.

  41. flr29 says: Feb 28, 2011 11:12 PM

    If the union decertifies, the players who currently are under contract will still be under contract. And I think their legal argument is that unions can be locked out, but individuals with contracts cannot legally be locked out.

    If we get a system with no minimum, no maximum, and no franchise tag, then the players win. The owners are the ones trying to get the public to believe that they are not smart enough to make money without an artificial cap on expenses. The players would be thrilled with no artificial salary restrictions.

    The owners are scared to death of going down the path of anti-trust, which is why they have filed a complaint to make the players keep their union. So after saying they wanted to negotiate, and not settle this in court, the owners conveniently changed their tune.

    The American Needle case was 9-0. Not easy to do with our current Supreme Court.

    Decertify. Play the season. Watch the owners cringe at the prospect of operating at the whim of a competitive market, something millions of American business owners are fully capable of doing every day.

  42. flik44 says: Mar 1, 2011 12:11 AM

    Go ahead and stop. My team sucks anyway.

  43. bradjames33160 says: Mar 1, 2011 12:38 AM

    SCREW THIS TO HELL. I don’t want the jackasses in college football to be the winners. The BCS is so stupid but why should there be any incentive for them to change? They are the most undeserving beneficiaries of what will go down. It’s Canadian Football for me I guess. GO CALGARY STAMPS

  44. king3319 says: Mar 1, 2011 3:45 AM

    It is truly a shame,millionaires squabbling over who’s hand should dominate the cookie jar!! Several of us feel the same way thinking “don’t buy any merchandise” and we shouldn’t. But that leaves alot of different products, everything from jerseys to food n electronics that are pimped by several players.we all know the minute football starts again we will all be doing the same thing buying,buying and buying I hope we all can stick to our guns and sure buy your favorite teams hat, but stay home, don’t buy a ticket to the game hell listen on the radio if we have to but go to the liquor store buy some meat from the store stay home and grill. Screw the millionaires and keep your money, stop given it to them!!!

  45. stanklepoot says: Mar 1, 2011 3:58 AM

    To those that think there will be replacement players and scab games, think again. The networks will not air them. To begin with, viewership will drop off quite a bit. Then there’s the fact that some of those networks would be inundated with angry messages and protests. Unions may not be as strong as they once were, but there are enough union members to make life hell for the networks airing games whose sole purpose would be to break another union. They might not have a lot in common with football players, but unions tend to go out of their way to support each other and to not to step on each others toes. Then there’s the issue of advertising, which is the reason networks air anything. How eager do you think they’re going to be to pay big money for the right to get caught up in all this mess? Until the two sides come to a settlement, there will be no NFL games.

  46. bonniebengal says: Mar 1, 2011 6:50 AM

    “Do you really think any company in America wants to bust up a labor union?
    C’mon, you must be pulling my leg.
    Next thing your going to tell me is some state is going to outlaw labor unions.”

    Wisconsin is not outlawing labor unions. They are dealing with a public employee union, which is state government employees, and are changing their bargaining rights to salary only. This is not the same as a regular union. They are state govt employees. I am a federal employee and I have no bargaining rights. I had to sign an agreement to never strike against the government in order to take the job. The difference between public employee unions and regular unions is vast.

  47. dspyank2k11 says: Mar 1, 2011 8:18 AM

    “I DONT KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUUUUT!!!!!” :)

  48. willie84 says: Mar 1, 2011 9:31 AM

    ufl…ufl…ufl……..

  49. edgy says: Mar 1, 2011 10:00 AM

    bobbyd12 says:

    *******************

    Looks like the truth hurts for some of your critics (Welcome to my world). Too many people seem to feel that this will kill the NFL and the fans will stay away but as you’ve said, that hasn’t been the case. Most teams recovered in less than 3 years after the last strike and overall, the NFL just got bigger than ever before. I have friends that swore up and down that they were done with the NFL but they were back at their televisions when the strike was over.

  50. edgy says: Mar 1, 2011 10:05 AM

    flr29 says:

    **********************

    It’s amazing how many people will miss your point. They seem to believe that the union wants a cap and a minimum and a maximum when the owners are the ones that wanted a cap and a maximum and the players wanted no cap but when the owners had to have one, they pushed for the minimum to keep the cheaper teams from taking too much advantage of the system. The players would gladly play for the league if they had no cap because they know that Dan Snyder and the Spenders will jack up the salaries to try to buy a championship and other teams will either have to follow suit or risk losing talent AND fans when they start losing.

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