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  • Labor lockout likely, NFL players union boss says

    Labor lockout likely, NFL players union boss says
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/05/2010

    FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — After months of relative quiet on the NFL labor front, the gloves are off.

    DeMaurice Smith, who replaced the late Gene Upshaw as executive director of the NFL Players Association, told reporters Thursday that NFL owners have asked the players to take an 18 percent pay cut in the next collective bargaining agreement.

    According to Smith, the players receive about 59 percent of what's called total football revenue. The league's proposal, he said, would reduce the players' share to 41 percent. Per player, that would amount to an average pay cut of $340,000, according to Smith's math.

    "Last year, the National Football League generated about $8 billion in total revenue," Smith said. "Forbes magazine estimated that average per team profit was $31 million."

    If the players accepted that pay cut, the owners would generate another $1 billion in profit for the teams, Smith claimed.

    "My question is why?" he said. "If there is something to do to change this deal because teams are not profitable, tell us. If there is something out there that shows that these team's profit margins are off by even 1 percent, tell (us). ... But I'm still waiting for that answer."

    Which was Smith's way of saying that while providing information on revenue, the league has never provided information on profit margin to the players union.

    The NFL has not had a work stoppage, via strike or lockout, since 1987. But Smith said that a work stoppage in 2011, in the form of a player lockout by owners, is probable.

    Smith said he feels this way because of what he called steps the league has taken to prepare for a lockout since 2007. Among them:

    — Imposing "lockout clauses" in the contracts of coaches and executives that give clubs the right to reduce compensation in the event of a lockout.

    — Retaining labor relations attorney Bob Batterman, who the NFLPA said is "widely credited" for orchestrating the 2004-2005 lockout in the National Hockey League.

    — Voting unanimously in May 2008 to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement two years early (or in March 2011).

    — Signing new broadcasting deals with the Fox and CBS television networks, as well as renewing its deal with DirecTV as the NFL's exclusive satellite carrier. Those deals guarantee payment to the league even if there is a 2011 lockout, which Smith called "$5 billion dollars" of lockout insurance.

    "Has any one of the prior deals included $5 billion to not play football?" Smith said. "The answer's no. When you look at every step that has occurred since 2007 is it more of a preparation to play football? Or more of a preparation to not play football?"

    Smith also said if the 2010 league year, which begins March 5, indeed is an uncapped year it would be "virtually impossible" to go back to a salary cap system.

    Thursday's annual NFLPA Super Bowl press conference was as much a position statement by the union as a question-and-answer session. The NFLPA handed out information sheets to the media that included a listing of what it called "the league's steps to prepare for a lockout," as well as a look at the success of the league.

    The league has its chance to counter Smith's claims today at Commissioner Roger Goodell's annual state of the NFL press conference.

    Smith was joined on a stage Thursday by several current and former NFL players, including NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, the center for the Tennessee Titans, and former Detroit Lions great, running back Barry Sanders.

    "What we do not understand and what we cannot give in to is how a business that makes over $8 billion, an average of $31 million a team, can look their employees in the face and say take an 18 percent pay cut without any justification for doing so," Mawae said. "It'll be such a shame for us not to have this game in 2011 because we can't find common ground on how the thing should be played out."

    Also seated on stage was former St. Louis Rams offensive guard Dwayne "The Road Grader" White, who is president of the South Florida chapter of the NFLPA and lives near Fort Lauderdale.

    In the audience were two former members of the Rams' 1999 season Super Bowl championship squad: defensive end Kevin Carter and tight end Ernie Conwell.

    Carter, who has "unofficially" retired, is on the NFLPA executive committee. Conwell, retired and living in Nashville, is regional director of the NFLPA.

    "We're doing our best to get something done," Conwell said. "Any time you're dealing with labor negotiations, there's always concern about the two sides coming together and finding the happy medium somewhere.

    "We're confident that we can get something done with (the owners), and I think they are as well. But we're also preparing for a worst-case scenario, which you just have to do."

    Along those lines, Conwell has been traveling to the various college all-star games, including last week's Senior Bowl, informing the potential 2010 NFL rookies about the current labor situation. That includes, Conwell said, informing them that "it could be one-and-done" — meaning a season of football in 2010 followed by a lockout in 2011
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: Labor lockout likely, NFL players union boss says

    I think we all agree that most of the professional athletes are overpaid. Whether it be football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf..etc..etc.. Even with that in mind how can the owners push for a paycut and offer nothing in return. I could understand if the owners were giving up some of their money as well in an attempt to lower tickets prices, concessions, parking and anything else so that the average fan could afford to take his family to a game or maybe even 2 or 3 games. Or how about an inhanced retirement plan for the players?

    This just seems crazy to me and I don't blame the "over" paid players for balking at this.
    sigpic :ram::helmet:

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    • #3
      Re: Labor lockout likely, NFL players union boss says

      I could understand if the owners were giving up some of their money as well in an attempt to lower tickets prices, concessions, parking and anything else so that the average fan could afford to take his family to a game or maybe even 2 or 3 games.

      I agree with you on that statement. I don’t know what the owners are making but it’s hard for me to believe in this economy that the owners are not taking some economic hits, even if they are not trying to help the fans. A lot of people have taken economic hits. I work in a very secure job but was ask to take a pay cut its hard on everyone sorry I don’t feel for the players.
      Last edited by eldfan; -02-05-2010, 02:42 PM.
      :ramlogo:

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      • MauiRam
        The NFLPA's power play: Cease to exist ..
        by MauiRam
        When the union decertifies, as it will shortly, the landscape will change dramatically

        By Lester Munson
        ESPN.com


        The expiration of the collective bargaining agreement that governs the NFL arrives at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday, and the players' union is about to decertify. The NFLPA's decision to end its existence as a labor organization could come at any moment. The union's decision and its timing raise significant questions about the relationship between the players and the owners, as well as the status of the NFL's 2011 season. Here are some of the questions and their answers:

        The players and the owners are still working with a federal mediator, and the CBA hasn't yet expired. Why decertify now? Why not wait until they have exhausted any chance of negotiating an agreement?

        There are two reasons. First, if the union does not decertify now, before the current bargaining agreement expires, it cannot decertify for six months, according to a clause in the CBA. There is no reason for the players to wait until September to use their best weapons. (We'll get to exactly what those weapons are in a moment.) So far, it appears that bargaining as a union has accomplished nothing.

        Second, and perhaps more importantly, by decertifying now, before the expiration of the CBA, the players are trying to stay in the Minneapolis courtroom of U.S. District Judge David Doty, who over the years has issued several rulings that were unfavorable to the owners. That includes a ruling late Tuesday concerning the NFL's television network contracts. (More about that later, too.) Doty, 82, an ex-Marine who was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, has presided over disputes between the players and the owners since the early '90s. Under his guidance, the players and the owners made the deal that is now expiring, a deal in which both sides prospered at levels beyond expectation. But Doty's jurisdiction over the NFL's labor case expires with the current agreement, meaning Thursday night. If the players wait and decertify later, they would have no chance of staying in Doty's courtroom and would have to take their chances before another judge. But if they decertify before midnight Thursday and then immediately file antitrust litigation, that litigation automatically goes to Doty, who will maintain control of it until its conclusion even if the CBA is no longer in effect.


        How will the owners react to decertification and litigation?


        It will not be a surprise for the owners, but they will not be happy. They will quickly claim that the decertification is a "sham," which is the word the league used in a complaint at the National Labor Relations Board. They will say that the players will continue to act like a union, look like a union and sound like a union. They will say that it's a labor dispute and does not belong in a courthouse. And...
        -03-03-2011, 11:17 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Union Decertifies After Failing To Reach Labor Deal With League
        by r8rh8rmike
        Union decertifies after failing to reach labor deal with league
        By Jason La Canfora NFL Network
        March 11, 2011

        WASHINGTON -- The NFL Players Association announced Friday that it has renounced its status as the collective bargaining representative of the players after failing to reach a new labor deal with the league.

        The NFLPA said it will become a professional trade association that supports the interests and rights of current and former players.

        NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said at 4:45 p.m. ET -- 15 minutes before the deadline for the union to decertify -- that "significant differences" remained after the league's latest proposal.

        Smith said the league must agree by 5 p.m. ET to provide 10 years of audited financial documents for the union to agree to a third extension of the CBA deadline.

        The union had until that time to decertify. It said it has faxed the necessary paperwork to U.S. District Judge David Doty in Minnesota.

        The NFL can impose a lockout of players, if it chooses, after 11:59 p.m. ET, when the CBA officially expires.

        "The union left a very good deal on the table," the NFL said in a statement. "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).

        "The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.

        "The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes."

        Before Friday's meeting, Smith told WJFK-AM that the union was looking for "the exchange of information so we can make a fair deal."

        Under the about-to-expire CBA, owners receive an immediate $1 billion to go toward operating expenses before splitting remaining revenues with players. Owners initially tried to add another $1 billion to that, and while they have lowered the up-front figure they want -- at least down to an additional $800 million, according to the union -- Smith has said it's still too much.

        The NFL, meanwhile, said the union was offered unprecedented financial data, including some...
        -03-11-2011, 03:49 PM
      • MauiRam
        Could this bring about an end to the lockout?
        by MauiRam
        Retired players file antitrust suit against NFL

        By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports Mar 28, 5:39 pm EDT

        Four retired NFL players, including Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller and Pro Bowl running back Priest Holmes, filed a federal class action, antitrust lawsuit against the NFL on Monday seeking to end the current lockout.

        Eller v. NFL, obtained by Yahoo! Sports, is similar to the current Brady, et al v. NFL. However, it is based on a potentially clever legal maneuver that could box the league into a corner and prove a significant development in ending pro football’s nearly month-long labor impasse.

        The former players’ suit also covers draft-eligible prospects, who aren’t represented by the NFL Players Association under the previous collective bargaining agreement. As such, these plaintiffs could potentially avoid one of the league’s chief counterarguments against the Brady lawsuit – that the union illegally decertified.

        “The owners say the union has unlawfully decertified and the union should be ordered to reconstitute and forced to sit at the bargaining table,” lead attorney Michael Hausfeld of the Washington D.C.-based Hausfeld LLC told Y! Sports. “If you look at the last CBA, it represents the rookies that have been drafted and the rookies who have begun negotiating with teams.”

        Therefore, college players awaiting next month’s draft are not represented by the union and can’t be faulted for its decertification. However they are, Hausfeld argues, being affected by the lockout.

        “These players have an antitrust claim,” Hausfeld said. “They’ve essentially staked the pursuit of a career on being eligible for the NFL.

        “The owners have shut down their potential employees through a concerted boycott,” Hausfeld continued. “[The suit is] going to avoid the main thrust of the owners’ defense and their argument that the matter should be settled by the [National Labor Relations Board] not in the courts.”

        The NFL said its “attorneys have not had an opportunity to review” the suit, which was filed in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The NFLPA was made aware of the suit prior to its filing, according to Hausfeld. It too has yet to respond with comment.

        Hausfeld has made a career out of winning complicated lawsuits – that includes earning reparations for Holocaust survivors from Swiss banks. His firm is currently one of the lead councils in a suit filed by former college athletes such as Ed O’Bannon and Oscar Robertson against the NCAA for the unlawful use of their likenesses.

        In the Eller case, Hausfeld believes a crack has been found in the NFL’s armor.


        “How silly is it to have a draft in April and then say, congratulations, you’re locked out?” he asked.

        By using the window between now and the start of the NFL draft on April 28, the NFL is exposed...
        -03-29-2011, 12:24 PM
      • MauiRam
        NFL teams prepping for lockout ..
        by MauiRam
        By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer Sep 17, 6:11 pm EDT


        INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Players for four NFL teams have already taken a key step in their looming fight with the league over pay—a fight that may include a lockout next year.

        Carl Francis, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Friday that Indianapolis, Dallas, New Orleans and Philadelphia have all voted unanimously to decertify the union. He said union leaders were still collecting voting cards from other teams.

        Decertification would strip the union of its collective bargaining rights on behalf of the players, so the move might seem counter-intuitive. But since antitrust laws exempt NFL owners from being sued by unions that are negotiating CBAs, decertification would in essence eliminate the union and allow players to sue the NFL in the event of a lockout—giving them potential leverage in their dispute with the owners.
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        Colts center Jeff Saturday(notes) said the Indy vote took place Wednesday and that he expects the other 31 teams to do the same thing—unanimously.

        “When it’s explained why you’re doing it, I don’t think anyone would vote against it,” he said.

        League officials declined to comment.

        No immediate action is expected by the NFLPA, but voting now will help the union avoid the logistical nightmare of tracking down players for voting cards and signatures during the offseason. The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the union expires in March.

        Players have been told that if the union does not decertify before the CBA ends, the NFLPA would have to wait six months to sue the league.

        NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is expected to meet with each team over the next few weeks. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also answered questions from Colts players during a training camp meeting last month.

        It’s not the first time this has happened.

        The NFLPA was decertified in 1989, two years after a failed players’ strike. It returned as a union in 1993, when a contract was reached with the league that provided for free agency. That landmark CBA was renewed or restructured several times since 1993, including in 2006. The owners opted out of that deal two years ago.

        The players currently get 59.6 percent of designated NFL revenues, a number agreed to in the 2006 CBA. The owners say that’s too much, arguing that they have huge debts for building stadiums and starting up the NFL Network and other ventures, making it impossible to be profitable.

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        -09-18-2010, 03:58 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Appeals Court Grants NFL Stay, Lockout Remains In Place
        by r8rh8rmike
        Appeals court grants NFL motion for stay, pending appeal

        By Albert Breer NFL Network
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        May 16, 2011

        MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL was granted its motion for a stay-on-appeal by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.

        As such, the league will maintain its right to lock the players out until its appeal of Judge Susan Nelson's decision to grant a lockout-lifting injunction is ruled on. That case will be heard on June 3 in St. Louis. Rulings in federal cases like this one generally take 30-45 days, though the injunction hearings have been put on an expedited schedule by the 8th Circuit.

        Meanwhile, the league and players returned to federal mediation, as ordered by Nelson in April, under the auspices of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on Monday. Michael Hausfeld, lead lawyer for the Eller class in Brady & Eller et al v. the National Football League et al, said the players have a proposal from the league in hand, but a source later described it as nothing more than a couple pages of bullet-points providing a framework.

        The expectation of most on Monday was that the sides were headed for St. Louis and the 8th Circuit, though they will return to Boylan's chambers for more mediation on Tuesday.

        "We obviously hoped that the circuit would not grant the stay and that football would come back for our fans and our players," said NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. "Right now, our guys are out there working out for free, because they dig the game. The case will be heard by the appellate court on June 3, we look forward to the argument. But look, this is something the players are prepared for. It's a disappointment, obviously.

        "As far as we can tell, this is the first sports league in history that's sued to not play its game. Congratulations. What we're going to do is continue to work hard on behalf of the players. We believe in the mediation process, we're going to honor the confidentiality and my hope is that someday soon we can get back to playing football."

        The ruling for the 8th Circuit was a clear win for the NFL, not just in its result, but also its wording. It supports the NFL's interpretation of the Norris-Laguardia Act, saying "We have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League's lockout." And it also states that the NFL's appeal has a likelihood of succeeding, saying, "Our present view is that Judge Nelson's interpretation is unlikely to prevail."

        "It's a huge win for the owners," said NFL Network legal analyst and director of sports law at Tulane University, Gabe Feldman. "It's still only a preliminary ruling, and it doesn't touch on the ability of the players to decertify and bring their underlying antitrust claim, but a majority of the panel made it clear...
        -05-16-2011, 08:50 PM
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