NFLPA attempts to explain August 4 letter agreement

Reuters

For a pair of entities that recently found long-term labor peace, the NFL and the NFLPA remain at war on a couple of fronts.  Most significantly, the NFLPA has declined to proceed with HGH testing, despite agreeing to HGH testing in the new CBA.

Also lingering is a dispute between the two parties regarding the meaning of an August 4 letter agreement regarding the application of the personal conduct policy during the lockout.  The agreement exempts first-time offenders from discipline for off-field incidents occurring during the lockout.  The agreement seems to permit, by its plain terms, the impositions of fines and/or suspensions on eight repeat offenders who found trouble, or vice-versa, during the work stoppage.

To date, only one active player has been suspended pursuant to that agreement:  Bengals running back Cedric Benson.  (Cornerback Brandon Underwood also has been suspended, but he is not under contract with any team.  League rules allowed him to serve the suspension while unemployed.)  Benson has fought the suspension in three ways.  First, he appealed the initial three-game suspension, and it was reduced to a one-game suspension with an additional fine in the amount of one game check.  Second, Benson filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the NFLPA tied Benson’s hands at a time when the NFLPA wasn’t even a union.  Third, Benson filed a formal grievance under the CBA, arguing that the league has no authority to impose discipline for anything that happened during the lockout.

As first reported here earlier today, the grievance was denied.

A hearing on Benson’s grievance was held on Friday.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA offered outside counsel David Feher as a witness.  Feher testified that the NFLPA believed the letter agreement, sent at the 11th hour as various other documents were being drafted and finalized in advance of the signing of the CBA, primarily was intended to protect the first-time offenders from discipline for incidents occurring during the lockout, and that the status of the eight repeat offenders would be the subject of subsequent discussions and/or proceedings.

Feher also testified that the NFL argued in conjunction with the union’s effort to lift the lockout that the circumstances constituted a “temporary cessation of the employment relationship.”  If so, then the NFL has no power to take any action against any player for conduct occurring during the lockout.

This specific testimony from Feher raises questions regarding the union’s refusal to offer a witness to testify at the appeal of Benson’s suspension.  If the NFLPA had interjected that point into the appeal, the league may have been forced to scuttle the entire suspension.

As we understand it, the NFLPA offered no evidence at the appeal hearing because Benson had filed an unfair labor practices charge against the union with the NLRB.  If that’s the case, it’s possible that Benson will now be filing another one.

12 responses to “NFLPA attempts to explain August 4 letter agreement

  1. Why didn’t the NLRB issue a preliminary injunction against the NFLPA’s letter? If they did that, then the NFL couldn’t rely on the letter, and thus the NFL could not suspend Benson until the NLRB determined whether the letter was binding on Benson.

  2. Not the focus of this post but the players signed off on the agreement that allows HGH testing and also allowed continuing discussion before the test gets implemented. The players’ issue about HGH testing was known prior to the league signing the contract.

    They want access to the data that WADA used to create the HGH levels profile that they’ll be measured against. They want to know the characteristics of the sample that the profile was derived from. WADA is withholding access to the data and the sample information. As it stands now if testing were implemented tomorrow players could be conceivably be suspended without ever having injected HGH. They don’t want that to happen. Neither do I.

  3. So, we have a punk who knew acting like a punk might cause his employer to threat him like a punk. Then the lockout started and he knew that the employer that punished him the last time he acted like a punk would eventually sit down and bargain with a labor union who represents a few punks and a whole bunch of players who feel unfairly associated with those few punks, but make millions of dollars. He knew that the fact that some of the players were punks was a major issue during the labor problem between the league and union. So, now that he acted like a punk and got caught during this time, he expects a union that had difficulty maintaining its position against the league BECAUSE of the handful of punks in the ranks of players to defend him for being a punk? He really thinks it’s unfair that the league is treating him like a punk and the union is letting them – all because he chose to act like a punk in this context? Poor guy, he is being unfairly treated because of choices he made? There are enough people in this world who are unfairly treated despite the choices they make, that I’m not going to worry at all about one guy who deserves to spend serious time in prison for the choices he makes that makes more money in one year that I will make in a lifetime. He will lose more money in the two game checks he has to give up than most Americans will in 10 years. It’s lucky for him that only represents 1/8th of what he will make this year. He needs to stop whining and start acting like someone who’s life depends on not being stupid in public. Come on, with the money he has, he can afford to keep the stupid private.

  4. Nice logic on the testing: We agreed to it in order to gain the concessions on practices but we didn’t really mean it and will not comply with what we said until Congress makes us.

    No player contracts were voided due to the lockout. The only ones who MIGHT have a valid argument against discipline are the ones (like Benson) that were not under contract during the lockout. That said, these idiots would not have to file a grievance for being disciplined if they simply did not behave in a way that warrants discipline. Their issue is not with Goodell (at least in this regard), it is with their own poor choices and their “untouchable” social entitlement mentality/unaccountable attitudes.

  5. Suspensions, fines, testing it’s getting beyond ridiculous.

    They should just join the Lingerie League. That way they can add pelvic exams and just be done with it……

  6. There is a very simple explanation why the NFLPA is fighting HGH testing….. they KNOW members of their union will test positive. Secretly, the owners probably don’t want it either.

  7. They want access to the data that WADA used to create the HGH levels profile that they’ll be measured against. They want to know the characteristics of the sample that the profile was derived from. WADA is withholding access to the data and the sample information. As it stands now if testing were implemented tomorrow players could be conceivably be suspended without ever having injected HGH. They don’t want that to happen. Neither do I.

    —————————————–

    Because what’s good enough for the rest of the world is not good enough for the NFLPA.

    Remember when they kept crying that they needed to see every penny the owners spent or they couldn’t negotiate?

    How’d that end? It’s just another smokescreen.

  8. I don’t see how fans can disagree with the League’s position on this. Bargaining in good faith should mean just that. The players simply need to behave inside the guidlines of the contract. They agreed to it plain and simple. The troubling nihilistic attitude many of you take toward this is sadly illustrative of how far down the ladder of moral and ethical behavior we’ve slid as a society.

    As far as the HGH testing goes, it may not be players testing positive as much as how many of them will weaken their case in the future for a better contract if they test positive thus saving the teams more money that the NFLPA can’t get a cut of.

  9. >How’d that end? It’s just another smokescreen.

    Easy to end it, then. Release the profile data to them.

  10. >Remember when they kept crying that they needed to see every penny the owners spent or they couldn’t negotiate?

    Yup. Completely unreasonable.

    I don’t think that access to the data that they’ll be measured against is unreasonable.

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