NFLPA decertification vote could ensure NFL football in 2011

With fans celebrating the return of the NFL season, the NFLPA is providing us all with regular reminders that the league and the players are on a collision course for a potential work stoppage.

But the news this time is good, at least for the fans.

The union believes that the owners will lock the players out and/or unilaterally impose the league’s last, best offer as new work rules.  And so the NFLPA reportedly is laying the foundation for a move that would set the stage for another class-action antitrust lawsuit, and that necessarily would allow football to continue, while the lawyers clean up all details.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that all players will
be asked to vote to authorize
.  Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the Saints already
have voted
unanimously to allow decertification.

Decertification would be used either to block a lockout or to combat the unilateral imposition of work rules by the league.  Put simply, if the NFLPA decertifies, the league would then be required to promulgate player acquisition and retention rules on an across-the-board basis.  The union then would sue the league, arguing that the imposition of standard rules regarding player acquisition and retention among 32 different businesses constitutes a violation of antitrust laws.

The union applied the same approach after the failed strike of 1987.  And the union’s ability to at least attempt the move was validated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in the American Needle case.  Though the lengthy written opinion of the Court contains language suggesting that the NFL could defeat an antritust challenge in the context of labor relations, the outcome preserves the ability of the union to pursue the antitrust route.

Still, the move likely would prevent a work stoppage.  And if the NFL were to attack the move by calling it a sham (Mullen points out the league has done this before), it would be very easy for the union to point out to the fans that they are doing everything they can to ensure that football will continue — and that the NFL is trying to take it away.

Either way, as we get ready to enjoy Week One of the 2010 regular season, this development encourages us that there will be a Week One in 2011.

26 responses to “NFLPA decertification vote could ensure NFL football in 2011

  1. …if you didn’t hear or watch jim rome’s take on the “solidarity issue” – you should try to catch it somewhere – i fully agree – to paraphrase (not as eloquently) we don’t give a damn about who gets paid at the end of the day – all we (fans) really want is to come home @ the end of a busy week and watch our team play friggin’ football!!! period!!!!…I’m old enough to say i had no problem watchin’ scab ball back in the day – the bottom line was my team was playin’ and i wanted to see it – hell how many of us would suit up & play for alot less than our faves if given the chance – JUST PLAY BALL!!! we don’t care about the details!!!

  2. On the contrary. While most of us are trying to ride a high associated with week one of the NFL season, the NFLPA is doing everything they can to kill it by reminding us that a lockout is coming.
    De-certification or not the regular public reminders are not necessary and simply hurt the game by bring dark thoughts to fans who are trying to forget the league’s troubles.
    The owners seem to recognize this. The NFLPA simply doesn’t care. Their job is to work for the good of the players they represent. That used to mean that they were also concerned about the good of the game. That is obviously no longer the case.

  3. JET FANS ARE LOUD AND ANNOYING! Nothing to do with this story, just felt like saying it.

  4. Tom Shannon – indeed, because the NFLPA should understand that this ultimately is not the players versus the owners, it’s economic reality versus an unsustainable percentage in the CBA. The more the MFLPA has talked about it – and the more players flash the deceptive “solidarity” sign – the more they come off as being unreasonable.

  5. I hope they lock out in 2011. I don’t want to see football next year until they do something about these stupid rookie contracts. Screw it. I can live without it for a season.

  6. What happens at the bargaining table after 2011 with the players have no player association/union at the table to help negotiate? Id think they would get killed in 2012 negotiations

  7. Mike Daly – seriously? 41% of billions in TV, merchandise and ticket revenue isn’t enough for the owners? Their career isn’t the one that could be over in the blink of an eye. People are blinded by the $ the players make. I pay to see the players -not Jerry Jones, Tom Benson or anyone else. It is the only sports league without guaranteed contracts.

  8. I don’t fully understand what this move is or what it does. All I can get is that the players would break from the union if the loc out happens and this would free up each player to sue the owners. I may be wrong but that’s the best I can make of it.

  9. …who cares what happens???!!!…get an education and try to get a real job in this economy – if you want to play the game and get ridiculous money – then play – if not, then stay in school and try to compete w/ the rest of us…how does no-one see that???!!!

  10. @Mike I agree. In fairness, I think it should be pointed out that it would probably help everyone to face the economic reality if the owners found a better way to share revenue. Its not an easy problem to solve but it can and should be done. That has nothing to do with the players.
    Two sides to every story.

  11. As I have been commenting all year, decertification is the name of game, and each team better NOT play it the same. Decertify, good-bye draft. Decertify, good-bye to the ability not to pay players all that is due under their contract. Decertify, sue for each and every head injury. So it looks like the owners are going to break the union. The owners should be careful what they wish for.
    Florio, what law school did you flunk out of? When the union is decertified there is no labor relations just individual state, local, federal laws regarding hiring, retention and health and safety.
    @ochostinko, it will be very nice to see billionaires lose their money faster than an underwater mortage without the union. The union is what makes the NFL owners money.

  12. There you go, get a lawyer to run a player’s union and you will have labor problems, have a former player run the union and there is really no problem..Demaurice Smith has acted like a douchebag ever since he got the job… Donald Fehr must be his hero!!

  13. nathanexplosion – that’s the best take on it I’ve heard.
    I understand that the players are doing what they feel is in their best interest. And the owners are doing what they feel is in their best interest. But it seems that neither is willing to consider the best interest of the whole.
    Players who are putting their bodies on the line for entertainment and large contracts will not have that option and will have to get jobs like the rest of us. Owners who are risking their capital and investing with the reward of millions will not have that option and will have to find some other way to make millions.
    In the meantime (if there’s a lockout) it’s the rest of us who have become addicted to the sport and who put them all in the lucrative positions they are in who lose.

  14. It is only in the context of a collectively bargained agreement between players and owners that teams can exclusively own rights to players who are not under contract. That means, any kid coming out of college, or any veteran whose contract expires, is a free agent unless the players collectively – and the owners – have agreed on an arrangement otherwise.
    Otherwise it is a restraint of the free market.
    You may not like it, but that is the law… Congress granted an exemption for baseball, and only baseball.

  15. @willmose: “The union is what makes the NFL owners money.”
    WTF are you talking about? The owners are making their money from the fans and sponsors while the union gets their cut of it afterward.
    Why don’t you ask the owners of manufacturing companies how much money the unions have “made” for them over the past few years? Greedy unions certainly did wonders for the American auto industry.

  16. willmose: “The union is what makes the NFL owners money.”
    That’s an amazingly ignorant and dumb statement.
    Unions are perfect for the ignorant, dumb and lazy. Too bad they hold back everybody else.

  17. @Dumb (ochostinko) and @dumber(joetoronto) sorry guys but Beck U courses in economics don’t match the real world. Without the union, players would be able to sign with any team. According to you all, the fans and sponsors would pay the owners money without any players. How dumb can you get? Pretty dumb I guess.
    “Unions are perfect for the ignorant, dumb and lazy.” Oh yes. Unions are perfect for people who like making $15/hour with health insurance instead of $.25/hour the owners want to pay them. Unions are full of decent hard working people that built this country. Ignorant, dumb, and lazy people are the ones that rant about unions saying , “I don’t want no union telling me what to do”
    Hey guys go to Iran, there are no union there.

  18. willmose: You can’t be that dumb, you just can’t.
    “Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd, smiling.”

  19. I think the players have a legitimate argument to amend the current CBA. The most influencing factor IMO is the incredible escalation of rookie contracts. I say this is a “player’s” concern b/c it greatly effects league veterans. With the incoming rookie class taking such a big chunk of any given team’s payroll, it leaves less for the veterans on that team. It’s almost like the NFLPA has it’s own internal battle to fight on this front…I’m not sure if the owners care one way or the other, they’re still paying out the same amount for the players based on the cap.
    I believe that the union decertification is a huge mistake. It’s a very short-term solution to the current situation at hand. Once the current labor issues have been resolved, there is a risk that the players union won’t certify again in the near future. This could change the landscape of the league tremendously. Good luck maintaining a competitive team in smaller market teams with no CBA. The players would also relinquish all benefits received from associating with a union. Big risk, not so big reward.

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