The NFL Owners and players association could not agree to a new collective bargaining agreement between themselves so the battle will be waged in court.
The league released the following statement:
The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).
In the end, the league was unwilling to turn over the financial statements the NFLPA asked for as justification for the owner’s demands.
Decertification means that the player’s union no longer holds bargaining power for the players and all labor discussions will take place in court now that the players have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL.
Today’s developments would be big news on its own but it takes on even more importance given the contentious union rhetoric in places like Wisconsin. Randel K. Johnson, United States Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, issued the following statement today:
We are troubled by the decision of the NFL Players to decertify as a union so that they may litigate under the antitrust laws, with the prospect that once the litigation is over they will again claim they are a union. Gaming the labor laws and the antitrust laws offers a potentially disastrous model for labor-management relations in this country and raises serious questions of labor policy.
Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner gives a brief explanation of what happens from here:
The players now wait to see if the owners will lock them out. If that happens, the players will sue in the court of Judge David Doty (the same judge who recently took the owners’ $4 billion in lockout insurance away from them in a scathing ruling). And if Doty injuncts the owners from locking the players out, it’s entirely possible that football will go on in the 2011 season and beyond … under a court order. The owners could also choose to ask for further negotiations instead of locking the players out, or they could establish new and onerous parameters under which football would resume, forcing the players to strike.
It is likely that only the tip of the iceberg is known regarding the ramifications of a court battle. Some, ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi for instance, predict a resolution will not be reached until as late as November, well into what should have been the 2011 season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is more optimistic, at least publicly. Jones stated that no football games will be missed. Let’s hope he’s right.