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League won’t negotiate with class counsel

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OK, now this is getting ridiculous.

After a week of indicating a desire to return to the bargaining table, the NFL now has a clear chance to negotiate a new deal.

And the NFL is refusing to proceed.

Seriously.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the league will not negotiate with the lawyers representing the class action that has been filed against the NFL following decertification of the union.

Seriously.

The league reportedly wants to return to the bargaining table, and the league has no interest in engaging in settlement negotiations — even though the settlement negotiations in the Reggie White case became in 1993 a settlement agreement that became the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It’s a perplexing position for the league to take.  At this point, the league should be pouncing on any chance to continue the talks, regardless of context or setting.

The easiest and fairest approach would be for the league and the class counsel to negotiate an agreement that allows the parties to negotiate a settlement in the same way they were bargaining via mediation.  All that the league will have to do is agree not to use the format of the negotiations as proof that the decertification was a sham.

It’s really not that hard to skin this particular cat, if the two sides want to do it.  Suddenly, we’re becoming convinced that the league doesn’t want to talk — which means that the league must be feeling pretty damn good about its coming defense to the motion to lift the lockout.

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56 Responses to “League won’t negotiate with class counsel”
  1. ttommytom says: Mar 21, 2011 2:27 PM

    So the League refused to negotiate to get who they wanted to negotiate with.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  2. nfl52 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:29 PM

    what is class counsel and is there a reason the owners would not want to do this? i imagine there would be some reason the owners dont want to negotiate with them. and maybe that was the reason it was offered, so dsmith can say he tried. but then again i dont even know what that class counsel means.

  3. mataug says: Mar 21, 2011 2:30 PM

    Alright now if a lawyer (or an ex-lawyer) is finding it ridiculous, maybe it really is… ridiculous

  4. mezter says: Mar 21, 2011 2:30 PM

    Wow, I’m losing all faith in the current NFL. They are destroying something I love to be a fan of. I’m extremely disappointed in all of this crap.

  5. apdaddy77 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:32 PM

    That settles it, everyone is talking out of their asses. Im glad that the season is in jeapordy because of a pissing contest.

  6. tryinaintdoin says: Mar 21, 2011 2:33 PM

    You are confusing the issue. The class action suit is different than negotiating the CBA.

  7. Caldon says: Mar 21, 2011 2:34 PM

    Please – I said this a week ago. The NFL wants to negotiate – what most of us call negotiate. The players want to litigate and settle, which is not negotiating.

    The NFL is taking the right stand here. The players are demanding the owners be present to negotiate and the NFL can demand that the players – not the lawyers – do the same.

    The difference between the two sides in this was easy to see the second Smith said the NFL could talk to their lawyers and brought up the Reggie White case.

  8. annnann says: Mar 21, 2011 2:35 PM

    No! Please just talk. Man, we all just want football.

  9. playingtheponzi says: Mar 21, 2011 2:35 PM

    As well they should. To call the union’s decertification a “sham” gives it far too much legitimacy.

  10. thedeej3000 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:35 PM

    Could they be worried that negotiating with class council hurts their argument that the decertification was a scam?

  11. FinFan68 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:35 PM

    Negotiating a settlement to a lawsuit that the NFL views as unjust/without merit is not the same as negotiating a CBA to further the league. If the league were to do as you state and negotiate with lawyers for Brady, Manning etc., couldn’t different players file the exact same suit and leave the league no better off than they are now (and in a worse position to fight those suits)? With no union, nobody can act in the interests of Aaron Rodgers, Brandon Marshall, James Harrison, etc. in the settlement talks the players propose.

  12. src3346 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:36 PM

    Would someone please explain how this is any different that the Players stating that they want to negotiate with the owners only and not Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash?”

  13. panther17 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:38 PM

    Vince McMahon needs to save us and bring back the XFL. No players from the current NFL. None of the owners from the current NFL. Both would just ruin another league.

  14. thedeej3000 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:39 PM

    sham not scam

  15. wryly1 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:40 PM

    Believe it or not, there are still people, including some who post here, that believe anything the owners say publicly.

    We know about the documents showing that for at least the past few years, they’ve been actively plotting what they’re doing now.

    Just one little problem. None of the owners can pass, catch, block, tackle, run or kick.

  16. t1mmy10 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:43 PM

    the only even semi-legit reason i can see is that the owners feel they extended themselves on certain issues in their last offer and expect the PA to make compromises in return for there to be any chance of success with continued negotiations. the PA*, however, has made it clear they felt it was too poor offer to even continue negotiations, so they won’t be offering those compromises that the owners demand. thus, there is no reason to continue negotiations & litigation is the best answer.

    but i think that’s really stretching it cuz for the past 2 past the owners made a big deal about wanting continuing negotiations. so if the owners aren’t serious about continuing negotiations, why did they make a big deal about the PA* stopping them?

  17. nfl52 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:44 PM

    so there is absolutley no reason the owners would not want to do this? if that is the case, then the owners are just not making sense. but i have a feeling there is a reason they dont want to do this. all they talked about is how they want to get back to the table

  18. Davo says: Mar 21, 2011 2:44 PM

    So let me see if I’ve got this straight – the League initially sent lawyers to negotiate with players, and that was ok.

    Now the league’s lawyers have to negotiate with the players lawyers, and that’s not ok.

    What’s good for the goose….as they say.

  19. bigbigodnarb says: Mar 21, 2011 2:44 PM

    Class counsel means the players’ attorneys.

  20. Kaz says: Mar 21, 2011 2:45 PM

    I for one will be biting my tongue and hoping for a NFLPA* victory April 6th just to get FA going and have a nice build up to the draft. It’s crazy cause the players have really irked me recently. But I’m all for forcing the game to continue while the two fight it out in court since that is all that is about to happen anyway.

  21. crubenst says: Mar 21, 2011 2:46 PM

    Don’t worry this will all end April 6. Just relax. Either the players win and football resumes or the players lose and they will scramble for money, splinter apart and fire D. Smith. All is well.

  22. rockstart42 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:46 PM

    Well you can’t negotiate with the union if they aren’t a union anymore.

    So class council would be like letting a bunch of the players in to represent themselves and negotiate with them. Although there would be a conflict of interests on the players part if say there were to go back to the table to negotiate since they disbanded the union.

    Negotiateing with a crazy group of players would be a zoo so I agree there is no point in keep on negotiating… it would be a complete waste of time.

  23. randymossblewit says: Mar 21, 2011 2:46 PM

    The NFLPA made there bed by decertifying. Now they will have to sleep in it. Let’s be honest….Decertification IS a sham. The whole idea that it isn’t flys in the face of what has been plain to see for months, the NFLPA was planning this all along and now they are going to get smoked for it. Just becasue they signed a piece of paper that says that they can’t use a sham defense in the future does not make it so. Everyone is still subject to the laws on the books; you can’t just sign a private agreement and then later on in court say “I don’t care what the the law is, we had an agreement. It doesn’t work that way. The owners will prevail and the lockout will continue. The players will crumble.

  24. broncfanor says: Mar 21, 2011 2:47 PM

    They are refusing to negotiate with class counsel because it would mean admitting the decertification was not a sham (which it is) and that would hurt the NFL’s court case.

  25. calmdownsir says: Mar 21, 2011 2:48 PM

    Read “Won’t negotiate with class clowns.”

  26. sufferingbirdsfan says: Mar 21, 2011 2:48 PM

    Do all you anti-player hammerheads finally see the light now? The owners NEVER wanted to avoid a lockout and they NEVER wanted a real negotiation. They have been wanting payback for the last CBA deal for years and have been planning accordingly. Do the math boys, the only thing greedier than a millionaire is a billionaire.

  27. kc4life7 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:48 PM

    I think the NFL probably figures they will get a better deal now in court, unfortunately, since the NFLPA* has made it blatantly obvious that their “decertification” was a sham.

  28. duanethomas says: Mar 21, 2011 2:49 PM

    No big surprise, this was planned out 3 years ago when they opted-out. They knew the NFLPA* would file for decritifaction and high profile players would file a suit against their lockout. This is all about winning since they they lost the last CBA battle. The owners do not care about the players and even less about the fans. They want to “take back our league!”. They want a 2 billion dollar credit, more games, a cap on what the players share and when they built a new stadium…the taxpayers to subidize most of it. So let’s wait until April 6th. If the players prevail we will have football on time. If the owners prevail, all bets are off……….

  29. smacklayer says: Mar 21, 2011 2:49 PM

    The reason is simple, anythign they give these lawyers will be used against the league in court. They are not stupid. As far as I am concerned, the payers took this batter to the court room and now they must live or die by the sword. Good luck.

  30. panther17 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:50 PM

    What I don’t get wryly1 is that there is still support for the players on here as well. Both share the responsibility for where the “talks” are right now and the possibility of no NFL football this year.

  31. benh999 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:52 PM

    I find it perplexing that a labor attorney can’t tell the difference between a lawsuit settlement and collective bargaining agreement.

  32. pjg1309 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:54 PM

    Hey if the players get to choose who they negotiate with why can’t the NFL choose who they talk to.

  33. hail2tharedskins says: Mar 21, 2011 2:55 PM

    The league is stating that they don’t recognize the union’s decertification (their legal position) and therefore in their opinion the NFLPA is still legally recognized as the negotiationing representative of the players. I see now why there will be no negotiations until after April 6, neither side wants to blink and relent on their position before this goes to court. The league is saying that the union never decertified and therefore it represents the players, the union says they no longer exists and therefore the class counsel now represents the players. Unless the league or the players are willing to accept that the other side’s position on whether or not the union legally no longer represents the players, nothing moves forward until the NLRB rules on whether or not the union legally decertified or if they still legally represent the players. This ambiguity however would seem to prevent the players from obtaining an injunction to block the lockout at least until after the NLRB makes its ruling.

  34. t1mmy10 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:57 PM

    so i read all of kaplan’s twitter comments. he says the nfl is still calling for continued “negotiations” but (according to the nfl) the PA*’s isn’t asking for the owners to negotiate with its lawyers. it’s asking the owners to come to a SETTLEMENT with its lawyers.

    i don’t have a degree in law, but i’m pretty sure any settlement agreement they come to with the PA* could be viewed as an acknowledgment that the league did something wrong in future trials done the road, unless that thing was changed (aka any future attacks on the salary cap, RFA, limiting rookie salaries, etc).

    so what would the league have to give the players in this settlement since they got free agency the last time? no salary cap? doesn’t seem like fair ground for “negotiations” to me.

  35. PFTiswhatitis says: Mar 21, 2011 2:58 PM

    “All that the league will have to do is agree not to use the format of the negotiations as proof that the decertification was a sham.”

    umm, but…it was a sham and still is a sham.

  36. nfl52 says: Mar 21, 2011 2:59 PM

    thanks bigbigodnarb

  37. hail2tharedskins says: Mar 21, 2011 3:02 PM

    wryly1,

    The owners have publicly stated that they have been preparing for a lockout and have made that position clear for at least the last year and half. So, I tend to trust the owners in that regard a lot more than I do the players who claim they just want to play football and that they filed their lawsuit for the benefit of the fans. The owners have said they are doing this because they don’t feel they are getting enough return on their investment because the players get too much of the revenue. You might disagree with their position, but it is pretty damn honest on their part!

  38. nfl52 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:03 PM

    why doesn’t PFT state the reasons why the owners would not want to do this? they act like there could be no possible reason.

  39. joshuavkidd says: Mar 21, 2011 3:04 PM

    why negotiate with a bunch of lawyers when its in the best interests of the lawyers to ride this thing right into court where their paychecks continue to get cashed?

  40. endzonezombie says: Mar 21, 2011 3:11 PM

    Your reasoning is correct, Mike. After decetification, the players cannot talk directly to the owners because it will defeat their decertification status. The newly organized trade association can only discuss matters with owners through the attorneys who represent them. Because the NFL refuses to negotiate with the PA* attorneys, perhaps this is why the PA* has previously stated that there would be no CBA negotiatons prior to April 6th.

  41. teeray3 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:11 PM

    I’m glad we have all these lawyers on here to explain the current labor situation. I don’t need any lawschool classes, I can just let you guys explain to me how the law works and how the owners are correct because of how you ‘feel’.

    FinFan86; If they negotiate on the lawsuit and come to an agreement that is then ratified by the newly re-instituted NFLPA, then yes it would cover all players.

    Didn’t the author just state that this is how the current CBA was negotiated?

  42. rad312 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:12 PM

    So it’s OK for the players to request negotiating directly with the owners without the lawyers involved however the same terms are not accepted to the players. The owners clearly do not now or never have wanted to negotiate with Jeffrey Kessler. So why paint a one-sided story….

    If Mike Vrabel (and players) wants to talk with Bob Kraft (and owners) then both sides should make the efforts to make it a reality.

    NFLPA* is simply playing a game inviting the owners to talk to their lawyers with the players acting as advisers….not the same thing as players talking with owners! Let the business men talk and not the vultures (lawyers…)

  43. nflfan101 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:17 PM

    Lawyers talking about a settlement in the “Brady” class action lawsuit is not the same thing as negotiating a CBA. They are two completely different animals.

    BTW, has a Court even ruled that the Brady case is a class action? I thought that a plaintiff’s lawyer can seek class action status, but that a Court must rule that it is a class action. If I am right, the Brady lawyers cannot negotiate for all players anyway.

  44. bigbigodnarb says: Mar 21, 2011 3:17 PM

    No prob nfl52.

    Flo thinks decertification is a sham. Fans think decertification is a sham. Unfortunately for the NFL no court has ever said a decertification was a sham. There is no precedent for that argument at all. The NFL would be wise to not rely on an argument that no court has ever adopted. I think the NFL could lose 100s of millions of dollars in a trebel lawsuit if they aren’t careful. The law isn’t on their side.

  45. bsizemore68 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:19 PM

    Why should us fans take anyone side? Both of them are looking out for there, and only there best interest, they have no desire to look out for us. How do you like what you pay for a pre season game?What about parking, and how do you like the price of drinks? When do the Braves start playing? Bill

  46. tcdun says: Mar 21, 2011 3:29 PM

    The “class council” are the l;awyers that are lead councils in the law suit to stop the League from locking out the players.
    The ONLY thing the “class council” would be able to negotiate would be about the lockout .
    The owners see no value in negotiating about the lockout,the owners want to negotiate with people who have authority to negotiate a new CBA agreement !!!
    This is just another phoney tactic by Smith and the union.
    The owners want to negotiate a new CBA,the union (Smith) says they will negotiate only about their case that they have brought to the court in minnesota . (that is all the “class council” can negotiate,since they are not authorized to deal with any other case or to even talk about the CBA.).

  47. artisan3m says: Mar 21, 2011 3:40 PM

    How about just owners and players at the table? No Goodell, Smith, Phelps, lawyers for either side or designated representatives for either side. It is a safe bet that everyone in the room will be college educated and capable of understanding the issues. They are already known to everyone in the mix anyway. Just the principals. What are the odds of that happening?

  48. toe4 says: Mar 21, 2011 3:44 PM

    There are some horribly, just horribly, misguided souls who are standing up for the owners absolutely blindly (the way I stood up for Jeff George when the Colts selected him #1 overall, or Steve Emtman for that matter)

    I understand being a homer for a team… but a homer for owners v. players is sort of ridiculous.

  49. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 21, 2011 3:56 PM

    “League won’t negotiate with class counsel”

    Yet the league wants to take Mike Vrable up on his suggestion, just as long as the league’s attorney’s are present…

    Got it.

  50. lawyermalloy says: Mar 21, 2011 4:14 PM

    I understand their position perfectly. To allow plaintiffs counsel( in the action before the court) to participate in negotiations, the league is fearful that it would turn into nothing more than a “free discovery” mechanism.

  51. mayfieldroadboy says: Mar 21, 2011 4:55 PM

    The NFLPA decertified and re-organized under a “players association”. The NFL cannot talk to the “players association” because there is no contract between the NFL and the “players association”. If I could, I would end the NFL and break off all talks, negotiations, and contracts with the NFLPA and the “players association” by putting the NFL as we know it in bankruptcy, and re-organize under a different name with a different set of rules for a new game of football. I would invite college athletes to an employee pool; if they are chosen by a team and don’t want to play for that team, so be it. (viz Elway and Manning). There would be a minimum entrance-level wage, with experienced employees getting the lion’s share. But I would not let these spoiled little bastards who think litigation is a license to steal from owners and fans play for my new “owners association”. There was good football before Brees, Brady, Peyton, etc; and there will be good football after these primadonnas are done.

  52. thefiesty1 says: Mar 21, 2011 5:14 PM

    Deal with the players not a bunch of lawyers. Another dumb move by the players.

  53. t1mmy10 says: Mar 21, 2011 5:25 PM

    i think ppl need to realize there is a difference between negotiating with lawyers (which the owners are ok with) and settling a lawsuit with the lawyers (which the owners aren’t ok with).

    the players association seems to be asking for a settlement NOT negotiations.

  54. commandercornpone says: Mar 21, 2011 6:10 PM

    the class lawyers are too busy to take calls anyway. they are going to court.

    so, go get new players. then market them. then kiss the old ones buh-bye.

  55. lawyermalloy says: Mar 21, 2011 6:17 PM

    Here’s a novel idea!
    Drop the lawsuit and simply negotiate, Than refile in six months. Nothing is going to get resolved in six months anyway while this suit is pending and the appeals that follow. Thus the “sham v. non sham” issue resolves itself and any antitrust actions are preserved for a later lawsuit.

  56. Deb says: Mar 21, 2011 10:07 PM

    The league has no interest in negotiating or reaching a fair agreement. They’ve made this clear in countless ways big and small. People who hate players simply because they make a lot of money to play a game … or people who’ve been suckered into believing Big Business, Big Banks, and Wall Street are on the side of the middle class cannot see this because they don’t want to see it.

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