League files unfair labor practice charge over plan to decertify

Apparently, the NFL’s lawyers have decided to abandon for now the goal of world peace.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has confirmed that the league has filed with National Labor Relations Board a charge of unfair labor practices.  The league claims that the NFLPA has failed to bargain in good faith as a result of a strategy to decertify and file antitrust litigation against the league.

The league claims that, in filing the charge, it seeks only that the NLRB order the union to bargain in good faith.   The NFL believes that the union has engaged in “surface bargaining,” along with tactics designed to avoid reaching an agreement before the CBA expires, so that the union can file antitrust litigation.

The NFL contends that the union’s strategy of decertification (technically, a “disclaimer of interest”) “is a ploy and an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process, there being no evidence whatsoever of any (let alone widespread) disaffection with the union by its members.”

Said the NFL in its complaint:  “The NFLPA’s threat to use a sham disclaimer of interest after expiration of the CBA is the same tactic that it employed in 1989 when its representatives falsely swore that its disclaimer was  ‘permanent.’  The union’s purpose in doing so is to evade its collective bargaining obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, to seek to use antitrust litigation to enjoin a lawful lockout, and once again attempt to achieve its bargaining objectives under the coercive guise of an antitrust settlement.   This plan by the union has produced 20 months of surface bargaining as the union has run out the clock in order to disclaim interest after expiration of the CBA.”

In English, the gloves are off.  And the chances of getting a deal done by March 4 are becoming even more remote.

And the golden goose could be coming down with a case of Ebola, especially since the league is trying to prevent the union from implementing its primary tactic for avoiding a lockout, which means a lockout is coming.

27 responses to “League files unfair labor practice charge over plan to decertify

  1. We know that nothing is going to be settled until the two sides approach an absolute deadline (like the start of the 2011 season).

    What if the fans impose a deadline on them?

    What if the fans organized and gave the nfl and players an ultimatum that if a deal wasn’t reached by, say june 1st (giving teams a month or so to sign free agents before camp starts), that they [the fans] would boycott the 2011 season (or beyond)?

  2. On it’s face, the terminology used to explain the purpose of decertifying (i.e. “disaffection with the union by its members”), sounds like the NFL has a decent case.

    That being said, I’m sure the NFL is doing something that could also be construed as “not bargaining in good faith.”

    Golden goose…meet knife.

  3. I honestly wish I didn’t have to continue hearing about the CBA negotiation. Everything that is being said in public is simply posturing so why bother repeating it. When the deal is done it’s done. Nothing that is said by some ex-lawyer wanna-be internet hack is ever going to influence the leage, the owners or the attorneys on either side so why bother with it?

    When the deal is done I will pay attention until then I simply dont see what is the point. Hearing that they are going to talk or hearing that they aren’t going to talk simply doesn’t change anything. If there isn’t football I cant do anything about it so I wont bother, when there is football I will start watching again. Period.

  4. Decertification isn’t nearly as unfair of a labor practice as say, negotiating a TV deal that advances you 5 billion dollars even when you’re not producing a product so you can simply force bad terms down the other party’s throats just because they don’t have the same war chest to fall back on… That’s as bad faith as it gets!

  5. That would NEVER work.

    Do you really think you could get MILLIONS of fans to boycott the NFL?

  6. It’s shaping up to be a good second half of 2011 for my dog, because it seems that we’ll be spending many more crisp, golden autumn sundays hiking in the park or walking on the beach, rather than cooped up in the house watching Packer games. Oh well.

  7. Fan boycott? Good luck. Heck, the NHL lost an entire season in 04-05, and came back even stronger. If a much weaker league like the NHL can endure a lost season, the NFL owners are probably feeling pretty confident that they can as well.

    The first pressure point to get a deal done is when the 490 free agents have nowhere to sign, and no bonus money to put in the bank. I expect that the NFLPA will be able to maintain unity past that spot, at which point the next pressure point doesn’t arrive until mid-September at the earliest, when the first game cheques will be missed. I think it’s 50/50 that we see a compressed 2011 season, i.e. 9 game regular season. The other 50% odds are for a completely lost season.

  8. I remember the last baseball strike.
    It came immediately after the last baseball game I watched.
    Screw this up, NFL.

  9. And of course the NFL lockout on March 4 will be drowned out by the government shutdown on the same day. That’s NOT going to be a slow news day…

    Sigh. By November we’ll all be casting about for sport to watch on TV — there’ll be no NFL and no NBA. We’ll have to watch (gasp) hockey.

  10. Considering I’m one of many that lost a job because of the economy, & took a major pay cut with my next job. I really can’t get on the players side of things. You know the current deal must favor the players because they’re saying they want to leave well enough alone.
    But then again, I’m strongly anti-union, in any industry.
    Lock out, strike, whatever. When football starts up again, I’ll watch. Be it this year, or the next. Wake me when this stupidity is over.

  11. manderson367 says:
    Feb 14, 2011 4:20 PM
    Considering I’m one of many that lost a job because of the economy, & took a major pay cut with my next job. I really can’t get on the players side of things.

    Why? The reason the economy is where it is and you lost your job is because of the wall street/banking types who are as dishonest and greedy as these owners.

  12. Makes complete sense. Leveraging his political connections to assault the time-honored anti-trust exemption that the NFL has obtained has been De Smith’s strategy all along. He has done nothing but posture in the media since the CBA issue has gotten more attention. I’d like to see the Power point he used to woo the players.

    The anti-trust exemption is good for football. It allows splitting of league revenue and more importantly, TV money so that Dallas/NY don’t end up being the Yankees of the NFL.

    Does anyone else remember dynasty football in the 80’s? Yeah, it was epic in its day……but it is not as good as parity football as we know the NFL today. The partnership of the teams is what makes the league better and more interesting than other sports.

    De Smith is an ultra-liberal using our national pastime (since ’58) to raise his own profile. Does anybody else consider:

    -Guys used to take chump change and risk their health for the love of the game

    -Athletes make 10 to 100 times more than they could make anywhere else

    -What other type of employees demand not only a salary….but ALSO a % of company profits?

    -What other employee in another field has massive platform that offers income opportunities via endorsement, social media and entrepreneurial-endeavors?

    De Smith would be wiser to:

    -Lower: % of revenue split

    -Increase: long-term healthcare, enhance pay for 18 game season and blow the roof off the salary cap (like start with $1 billion for the entire league….ie equal dollar amount of split percentage towards money that can be spent)

    -Decrease: contact associated with OTA & other pre-season activity

    Instead, he has to attack fundamental business principals and major success components (anti-trust exemption).

    NFL had no choice

  13. This is all ramping up to get ugly. I think we can stop wondering if a deal will be reached by next month and start refreshing ourselves on College Football.

    Meanwhile while all of us file off to jobs that keep this country going these people can keep arguing about who gets how many millions vs the other.

  14. NFL meet NCAA,
    Super Bowl meet Rose Bowl,
    Draft meet National Signing Day.

    At least every single game will matter – the playoffs start in September next year.

  15. The Owners agreed to this deal in 2006 then opted out 2 years later 08 now want over one billion in givebacks on a new deal. I would want to see the books before giving back a billion dollars I think anyone would. Owners open the books why are you afraid . Anyone who doesn’t think players deserve the money they make needs to be on the NFL sidelines during a game this is a truly violent game, most if not all players are not the same healthwise after retirement.

  16. @anarchopurplism

    Actually you have it backwards; MLB has anti-trust exemption (and has since the ’40s), the NFL does not. In fact, 9 months ago in the case American Needle v. NFL, 08-661, the US Supreme Court unanimously declared:

    “Although NFL teams have common interests such as promoting the NFL brand, they are still separate, profit-maximizing entities, and their interests … are not necessarily aligned.”

    Because of this, if the union were to decirtify the teams would still be required to compete against each other for players services even in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, or risk being charged with engaging in anti-competitive practices.

    (On a seperate note, while I am not a labor lawyer I’m not sure how a judge could stop the union from decirtifying)

  17. fin72 says:
    Feb 14, 2011 4:32 PM
    manderson367 says:
    Feb 14, 2011 4:20 PM
    Considering I’m one of many that lost a job because of the economy, & took a major pay cut with my next job. I really can’t get on the players side of things.

    Why? The reason the economy is where it is and you lost your job is because of the wall street/banking types who are as dishonest and greedy as these owners.

    You forgot the Government in that mix also. And compairing the banks to NFL owners is weak also. The banks are regulated by the Government. And sorry, I’m not buying your “greed” argument.
    The owner of any company/team are the ones taking the risks, and whatever profit the market will bear, good for them. They invest their capital into the team/company and they set the pay for their employees. If you don’t like what they want to pay you, find work elsewhere.
    Without the current players, we’d have a different brand of football.
    Without the owners, we’d have NO football.

  18. Every fan owning season ticket rights should refuse to purchase/renew until an agreement is reached and the 2011 season is guaranteed. If the owners play hardball and threaten to revoke your repurchase/renew rights and sell your seats to the next person waiting in line (should there be any) then the fans who lose their seats should file a class action suit against the team/s. I’m sure there are plenty of sleazy lawyers out there who would drool over the chance to file a class action suit against the NFL team owners and the league itself.

  19. I have lived through this labor “negotiations” in the past as a fan.. but this one seems to have a new life to it overall.

    And as a fan, with the sport I love in the balance, am past the point of disappointment with both sides.

    I have personally set a guideline in my head.. for every week past the 4th that this deal drags forth… I, my two sons and family are simply going to turn the channel to another sport in its place.

    I will reorganize my fall schedule to pay more attention to the Saturday blend of football than the Sunday.. and on a Sunday in which I feel the need to tune into something.. I will replace it with NASCAR or baseball if a decent game is on the calendar.

    I am sure that one person such as I will do little in the large scheme of it all.. but my dollars and time will not go forward in support of a league that has increasing become more interested in the bottom line than the fan.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t wish of a fan movement to place notice on this league that we are still the ones that ultimately matter in this deal.. without the fan and their spending.. what Billions would they be trying to parse up.

    That said.. the fans are two unorganized to mount such a movement.. or are they?

  20. Yeah. The owners always play fair.

    A bunch of billionaires asking for the fans to float them a loan so that they can wreck the 2011 season.

    PS – that’s what the early request for season ticket payments is. Ya know that, right?

  21. I lean towards the NFLPA on a lot of these issues, but this could actually be an earnest attempt by the NFL to get a deal done ASAP. If the league genuinely believes that the NLRB’s intervention is necessary (and there’s reason to believe it is), the sooner the better.

  22. This has the makings of a three ring circus. Mr. Kraft was spot on when he said the lawyers need to step back and let the business people take over, although I’m not sure who the business people are on the NFLPA side.

    What the hell are Brees and Manning doing at the negotiating table? Is this a sign of how unserious both sides are? How do you expect to make progress when people who are not decision makers are in the middle of the negotiation?

    Why is the NFL running to the courts after months of casting the Players as uninterested in bargaining and looking to the courts for a solution?

    Methinks this will end badly for the owners, players, and fans. Maybe the only good thing to come of this will be the end of BADell’s career. He is desteoying the best sport on earth.

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