The NFL Players Association continues to use talk of a looming lockout to stir up fan, media, and political support for its current labor struggle with the league. Most recently, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Bloomberg.com that a lockout is a “virtual certainty” in 2011.
On the surface, that’s somewhat better than Smith’s previously assessment of the chances of a lockout being at 14 on a scale of one to 10.
But as pointed out on Friday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, guest-hosted by a certain Internet hack with a face for radio and a voice for print, there’s a clear disconnect between the union’s lockout rhetoric and the reality that the union has crisscrossed the country to line up authorization from its players to decertify (or, as the NFL describes it, “go out of business”).
Decertification would prevent a lockout, because there would be no combined work force to prevent from working. So I asked NFLPA spokesman George Atallah during his Friday visit to The Dan Patrick Show why the union doesn’t mention, when banging the drum in the halls of Congress regarding a lockout, the fact that the union has secured the ultimate silver bullet — the ability to shut down the process and proceed as a group of individual employees.
Atallah stopped short of saying that the union definitely would implement decertification, explaining that the players continue to prefer to work things out at the bargaining table. But none of this changes the fact that, when sounding the lockout alarm, the NFLPA isn’t telling the entire story to the media, the fans, or the politicians.
So whenever De Smith says that a lost 2011 football season would trigger “$5 billion in lost wages, taxes and other revenue,” he should point out the fact that the union has pieced together the ability to prevent the NFL from locking out the players, if/when it comes to that.
If the union so desperately wants to avoid financial consequences to the stadium workers and other collateral employees whom the union claims to hope to protect, they should make it clear right now that there won’t be a lockout because the players plan to employ one of the same tactics off the field that they commonly used on it.