Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:24 pm

NFL argues why the District Court was wrong

DeMaurice Smith Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The NFL filed a 61-page brief today with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to argue why District Court Judge Susan Nelson was wrong to authorize an injunction against the NFL owners’ lockout and why that lockout should be put back into place.

Here are some of the key arguments from the owners’ team:

- Nelson was wrong because she exceeded the restraints of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which bars federal courts from issuing injunctions against certain types of labor disputes. Basically, the owners’ counsel writes that the federal court simply didn’t have the jurisdiction to end the lockout.

-The District Court was wrong to allow the injunction before the National Labor Relations Board had a chance to rule on the issue of whether the NFLPA’s decertification was a violation of its obligation to collectively bargain in good faith.

-The District Court erred by failing to recognize that the “plaintiffs’ antitrust claims are not barred by the nonstatutory labor exemption."

And oh yeah, also the decertification of the NFLPA as a union is a sham writes the owners, because when the NFLPA used the same maneuver in 1987, it was based on the NFPLA’s assertion to the court that its disclaimer “was permanent and irreversible, and not a bargaining tactic.”

They also point to the fact that the NFLPA secured the players’ permission during the 2010 season to decertify if the NFLPA decided that was the correct course to take.

Writes the owners’ team: “Countless statements of NFLPA representatives, both before and after March 11, confirm that its current 'disclaimer,' the result of a conditional authorization, is a tactical ploy. The NFLPA is not permanently abandoning collective bargaining, but instead is attempting temporarily to disclaim its union status in hopes of increasing its members’ bargaining leverage by subjecting the NFL to antitrust suits over terms and conditions of player employment.

"Repeated statements from plaintiffs and other leaders of the NFLPA indicate that the disclaimer was not made in good faith and that it is not unequivocal. For example, the President of the NFLPA stated that “the whole purpose [of disclaimer] is to have that ace in our sleeve. … And at the end of the day, guys understand the strategy, it’s been a part of the union strategy since I’ve been in the league ….”

The players’ response is due May 20.

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 8:29 pm

Roger Goodell's letter to the players

Posted by Eye of Football Staff

The NFL apparently has decided its tired of dealing with the leadership of the NFLPA. Now, commissioner Roger Goodell is going directly to the players.

The NFL office sent out e-mails to the players and the player-agents today, suggesting the players get back to the negotiating table so the two sides can hammer out a deal. Also included was the owners’ last offer before the union decertified.

Here’s the text of the letter, obtained by CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman:

Dear NFL player,

As you know, negotiations between the NFL Players Association and the clubs have not led to an agreement. Last Friday, the NFLPA Walked out of the federal mediator’s offices in Washington, told us that it had abandoned its right to represent you as a union, and filed a lawsuit. Some hours later, the clubs instituted a lockout.

The clubs believe that there is only one Way to resolve our differences, and that is through good faith collective bargaining in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open communication. We have said publicly, told the federal mediator, and say to you that We are prepared to resume those negotiations at any time.

We want you to understand the offer that we made to the NF LPA. The proposal was made to avoid a work stoppage. Each passing day puts our game and our shared economics further at risk. We believe the offer presented a strong and fair basis for continuing negotiations, allowing the new league year and free agency to begin, and growing our game in the years to come. Here are the key elements of the proposal:
  • A salary cap for 2011 that would avoid a negative financial impact on veteran players. We offered to meet the Union at the mid-point between our previous offer and the Union’s demand. Under our offer, 2011 salary and benefits would have been set at $141 million per club, and projected cash spending would have been as high or higher than in either 2009 or 2010. By 2014, salary and benefits would have been set at $161 million per club. In other Words, player compensation would increase by as much as $20 million per club by 2014.
  • Free agency for players with four or more accrued seasons and reduced draft choice compensation for restricted free agents.
  • Extensive changes in off-season work requirements that would promote player health and safety, encourage players to continue their education, and promote second career opportunities. The off-season program would be reduced by five weeks, OTAs would be reduced from 14, to helmets would be prohibited for the first five weeks of workouts, and rules prohibiting “live” on-field contact would be strictly enforced.
  • Changes in preseason and regular season practices and schedules that would reduce the number of padded practices, reduce the amount of contact, and increase the number of days off for you and other players.
  • Commit to retain the current 16-game regular season format for at least the next two seasons, and further commit not to change to an 18-game regular season without the Union’s agreement.
  • Expand injury guarantees for players. The clubs offered to guarantee up to $1 million of a second year of your contract if you are injured and cannot retum to play.
  • For the first time, players and families would be able to purchase continuing coverage in the player medical plan after retirement for life, and could use their health savings account benefit to do so.
  • Enhanced retirement benefits for pre-1993 players. More than 2,000 fonner players would have received an immediate increase in their pensions averaging nearly 60 percent, funded entirely by the owners.
  • A new entry-level compensation system that would make more than $300 million per draft class available for veterans’ pay and player benefits. The new system would preserve individual negotiations not a wage scale - and would allow players drafted in rounds 2 through 7 to earn as much or more than they earn today.
  • Significant changes in disciplinary procedures, including a jointly-appointed neutral arbitrator to hear all drug and steroid appeals.
Working together, players and clubs have made the game great. Our fans want us to find common ground, settle our differences, and come to a fair agreement. I have met with many of you since becoming Commissioner. You know of my respect and admiration for you as men and as players. We need to come together, and soon.

In that spirit, we are prepared to negotiate a full agreement that would incorporate these features and other progressive changes that would benefit players, clubs, and fans. Only through collective bargaining will We reach that kind of agreement. Our goal is to make our league even better than it is today, with the benelits shared by all of us.

I hope you will encourage your Union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com