Thursday, July 21, 2011

NFL Lockout/CBA Negotiations, On Cusp Of Being Over, Take Ugly Turn

It was the news that caused legions of NFL fans across the country to rejoice: the owners had ratified their side of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement!

All that was needed after that was for the players to ratify it as well, and the lockout would be over and the new NFL season could begin!

Not so fast, my friends.

The news emerging from this situation now is that the owners ratified a deal that contained provisions that were never agreed upon by the players' representatives.  This is now turning into a game of he said/he said.  League officials are claiming that the NFLPA leaders have the proper documentation of the changes that were made, but those representatives are refuting that statement.

In addition to this issue, the NFL owners have issued a demand to the players, giving them a deadline to re-form their union and accept the new deal.  NFLPA leaders called all the player reps following the owners' vote to discuss the situation.  Following this call, a summary email was sent to all 32 player representatives.  The following is an excerpt:

We received the NFL's proposed procedure for finalizing a settlement. Among other things, it...Demands that the players re-form as a union and provide evidence by Tuesday, July 26 that a majority of players have signed union authorization cards... 
In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old Agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws. Those laws prohibit employers from coercing their employees into forming a union, and could result in any Agreement reached through the procedure being declared null and void.
So what does this mean for the fans? Well, it's highly unlikely now that the players will vote on Friday to ratify the new CBA.  Whether it's simply a power play, or a true concern that the owners are engaging in coercion, the players seem genuinely concerned that this deal is no longer favorable for them.

Once the players read the owner's version of this CBA proposal, perhaps they will change their minds.  As it stands, the players are extremely sensitive about the idea that the owners have backed them into a corner.

Of course, this might all simply be more stupid drama that doesn't really exist.  It's reported that the owners voted 31-0 in favor of the new agreement (the Raiders abstained). It's hard to fathom Dan Rooney or Robert Kraft voting for something that was unfair to players, but stranger things have happened.

In any case, wake me when it's over.

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