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League needs to quit obsessing over federal oversight of CBA

A. Boylan AP

As the parties begin to converge on a federal courthouse in Minnesota for mediation that, if the right people are present, could potentially resolve the labor dispute, there’s one specific issue on which the owners needs to take a broader view — and to quit insisting on getting their way.

In 1993, when the Reggie White antitrust lawsuit was resolved, the parties agreed that some disputes would be resolved by binding third-party arbitration.  Other disputes would go first to a Special Master and then on appeal to Judge David Doty, the judge who handled the White case.

Article XXVI of the expired CBA set forth the specific provisions of the labor deal that fell under the Special Master’s umbrella.  Article XXVII vested powers in the neutral arbitrator, whose rulings were final and binding, without further appeal or oversight by Judge Doty.

For example, the “lockout insurance” case fell under the Special Master’s supervision.  The infamous Terrell Owens arbitration of 2005 went to an arbitrator.

In practice, disputes occur infrequently.  When they do, however, both sides want to win.  Because the owners believe that Judge David Doty was biased in favor of the players — possibly because he dared to disagree with them from time to time — the owners want no federal oversight of the new CBA.

The owner feel so strongly about this that the league’s desire to avoid Judge Doty or any other federal judge has been characterized as a dealbreaker.  It’s tough talk, and like much tough talk it’s highly impractical.

Every labor agreement has a dispute-resolution procedure that takes the fight out of the parties’ hands.  Whether it’s a judge or an arbitrator or a coin flip or a game of pin the tail on the donkey, every CBA has a specific procedure for solving the issues that come up from time to time under the language of the agreement.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not worth fighting over how and where the disputes will be resolved.  By obsessing over the possible involvement of Judge Doty and, now, Judge Susan Nelson, the league has made it into a much bigger issue.  For which the NFLPA* will expect a much bigger concession.

The refusal of the owners to accept the fact that, from time to time, they may be wrong (and, for example, in the “lockout insurance” case, they clearly are) has created magnified the issue, making it into a possible dealbreaker.  The league badly wants no federal oversight — and that’s making the players want it just as badly.

Here’s hoping that Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan’s first order of business on Thursday will be to speak to the parties in candid terms about this specific issue, in the hopes of getting both sides to understand that it’s not nearly as big of a deal as they’re making it out to be.

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24 Responses to “League needs to quit obsessing over federal oversight of CBA”
  1. airraid77 says: Apr 14, 2011 9:11 AM

    so why do the players need a union? Collective bargaining by your own reasoning is dead.
    every 7 years, the players can have their work conditions, including their pay handed to them…..COMMUNISM at work.

  2. airraid77 says: Apr 14, 2011 9:14 AM

    I think the republicans when they get the house back in 12, should pass the fairness doctrine…….shut down liberal media…….m-flo wont worry about federal oversight….

  3. chapnastier says: Apr 14, 2011 9:15 AM

    WOW! Couldn’t it be argued that the players need to quit obsessing over the financial information? It’s tough talk, but like much tough talk, its impractical.

  4. eagleswin says: Apr 14, 2011 9:17 AM

    In the grand scheme of things, it’s not worth fighting over how and where the disputes will be resolved. By obsessing over the possible involvement of Judge Doty and, now, Judge Susan Nelson, the league has made it into a much bigger issue. For which the NFLPA* will expect a much bigger concession.
    ———————–
    It’s funny that you say this because the whole reason we are in this mess is because the players decided to fight this dispute in the courts rather than negotiate. The players got the venue they wanted for the CBA/Settelement discussions and now your saying that it is trivial?

    How about telling the players that it’s trivial to keep clinging to federal oversight? I’m sure that would go over like a ton of bricks. I’m still waiting to hear what you think the players need to concede or stop clinging to?

    What is wrong with an independent arbritrator or a special master? They are still allowed to rule in favor of the players if they think the owners are wrong in a dispute and their rulings are binding. It’s ridiculous that that isn’t sufficient for the players.

  5. smarterthantheaveragebearfan says: Apr 14, 2011 9:17 AM

    Lets see—

    The arrogant billionaire NFL owners want 1) a continued monopoly 2) a compliant and powerless work force and 3) no oversight over the first two abominations.

    Here’s hoping the players tell them that it’s NEVER going to happen and if if they want to make it a “deal breaker” then go ahead and cancel the 2011-2012 season now.

  6. MichaelEdits says: Apr 14, 2011 9:24 AM

    Arbitration should be handled by my daddy, because he’s big enough and mean enough to throw Terrell Owens through a wall with his weak left hand.

  7. zaggs says: Apr 14, 2011 9:28 AM

    “Because the owners believe that Judge David Doty was biased in favor of the players — possibly because he dared to disagree with them from time to time — the owners want no federal oversight of the new CBA.”

    Still lying. It could have to do with the fact Doty has taken private meetings with the players union, but not the league, pretty much tells it all. Would you as a 2nd rate lawyer willfully go into court without challenging a judge who had private meetings with the other side.
    Also in 19 years has Doty as a supposed neutral arbiter EVER ruled against the union? I’m not aware of any such rulings. Kinda odd for someone who is supposed to be neutral.

  8. kcfanatic says: Apr 14, 2011 9:33 AM

    Could it be that the owners are making a bigger deal out of it than it is so that the players will want the Federal Oversight? The owners could then concede on the oversight only to get something they want in return.

  9. tednancy says: Apr 14, 2011 9:35 AM

    How about “Players need to stop obsessing over federal oversight of CBA?”

    There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a federal judge needs to be involved here, when disputes can be mediated by a third party arbitrator.

    Stop spinning Mike.

  10. fltharley says: Apr 14, 2011 9:35 AM

    we need to send the nfl a message and boycott the nfl draft. the league and players laugh at us blind fans that will flock to the tv to see who gets drafted. if we dont watch the league will get the message read about your team the next day in the paper, if there is a serious drop off of viewers of the draft , tv will pressure league and players to get this done

  11. 3octaveFart says: Apr 14, 2011 9:35 AM

    smarterthantheaveragebearfan says: Apr 14, 2011 9:17 AM

    “Lets see—

    The arrogant billionaire NFL owners want 1) a continued monopoly 2) a compliant and powerless work force and 3) no oversight over the first two abominations.”

    You just described the entire Republican party.

  12. bluepike says: Apr 14, 2011 9:37 AM

    @eagleswin – Well said. Very well said.

    Judge Doty disagreed with the owners from “time to time”? Don’t you mean EVERY time?

  13. bobwhitequail says: Apr 14, 2011 9:51 AM

    The fact that Judge Doty’s former law clerk is now one of the lead laywers for the union tells you all you need to know about why every single Doty decision was in favor of the players.

  14. seahawkhuskyfan says: Apr 14, 2011 10:13 AM

    What would happen if the owners decided to take 2011 off? No football. You think the players might change their tune with a year off to “think”about things….

  15. bobwhitequail says: Apr 14, 2011 10:31 AM

    seahawkhuskyfan, it would be better to start 2011 with scab players and invite new and current players to play based on the “last, best, offer” from the nfl. If they don’t want to play, they can go find another job. The draftees would want to play and lots of the veterans too.

    The union leadership thinks this is a war and wants to sue until they get all they can. They don’t want to negotiate and never have IMO. These are grown men getting paid highly to play a football game. A harsh reality check of them having to box groceries might be just what the doctor ordered!

  16. airraid77 says: Apr 14, 2011 10:34 AM

    it would never pass a republican any ways. and i wasnt talking about something they already have…..and probably will till at least 14….the white house was my reference…..
    I am totally against the fairness doctrine in any degree…..but your comprehension skills are not found on the radar of intelligence as was evidenced.

  17. seahawkhuskyfan says: Apr 14, 2011 10:46 AM

    bobwhitequail says:
    Apr 14, 2011 10:31 AM

    Very well put!

  18. rad312 says: Apr 14, 2011 10:56 AM

    Based on the history of Doty’s rulings and history of Doty with the NFLPA / NFLPA* I can fully understand the owners hard line position.

    Your unabashed support of the players plight continues to show through with your comments and opinions.

    Very tiring….

  19. smarterthantheaveragebearfan says: Apr 14, 2011 10:58 AM

    bobwhitequail says: Apr 14, 2011 10:31 AM

    seahawkhuskyfan, it would be better to start 2011 with scab players……….

    ==============

    I am sure some guy who pays $5K for his PSL and $300 a game wants to watch UFL rejects and Div II all stars.

    The TV ratings would crater.

    Better re-think that “plan” pal.

  20. bobwhitequail says: Apr 14, 2011 11:54 AM

    re: “The TV ratings would crater.”

    2011 would have reduced ratings and reduced quality of football. Who cares? We would have football in 2011 and in 2012 all would return to normal football as the players who held out run out of money and come back on board. Plus the stage would be set for long term football.

  21. seahawkhuskyfan says: Apr 14, 2011 12:50 PM

    I agree. One year of reduced quality would result in normal football in 2012 with a long term deal in place. The players do not realize what a great deal they have. Not a lot of 7 figure jobs out there right now guys.

  22. thefiesty1 says: Apr 14, 2011 1:55 PM

    Have the players stop requesting financial info. Most of them aren’t smart enough to understand a financial statement. Boylan should tell both sides to shut up and move forward.

  23. nflfan101 says: Apr 14, 2011 2:34 PM

    If, as PFT says, it is not a big deal as to how or where disputes are settled, why don’t the players simply agree to a different dispute resolution system?

    Why does PFT carry the water for the NFLPA* and always bash and blame the owners?

    Why is it that with virtually every issue, the owners are at fault in the eyes of PFT?

    If a dispute resolution system almost always resulted in a win for the other side, wouldn’t you refuse to continue the same dispute resolution system?

  24. realfann says: Apr 14, 2011 3:07 PM

    The only people scared of judges are those that break the law.

    All the owners will sue at the drop of a hat but on this issue suddenly they’re scared of the courts.

    Tells me they know they’re in the wrong.

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