NFL Labor Dispute Update

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Robert J. Romano

As everyone is aware, National Football League Players’ Association decertified and a group of players sued the National Football League in Federal Court for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act.  In response, the NFL and the NFL owners have locked out the players. The NFL filed its brief in the case focusing on two main issues.  The first being the inconsistency of the players’ position wherein the NFL contend that the players can not argue the lockout is an antitrust violation and should be lifted and the former NFL rules imposed, while also claiming the NFL’s rules are antitrust violations.  Second, the NFL claims that the court has no jurisdiction and needs to hold off hearing this matter until all administrative remedies are exhausted – that being the complaint filed by the NFL on February 14, 2011 against the NFLPA with the National Labor Relations Board.

The NFL’s complaint with the NLRB claims that the NFLPA failed to bargain in good faith and questions whether the NFLPA legally decertified as a union. “A union cannot, by a tactical declaration akin to the flip of a switch, transform a multiemployer bargaining unit’s lawful use of economic tools afforded it under the labor laws into an antitrust violation giving rise to treble damages and injunctive relief,” the NFL said. The NFL continues by stating, “The NLRB is now considering whether the union has purported to disclaim in order to gain a tactical bargaining advantage, rather than disclaiming unequivocally and in good faith, as the federal labor laws require. If the Board finds such a violation, it will issue an order requiring the union to return to the collective bargaining table. Under the primary jurisdiction doctrine, the Court must stay this case pending the outcome of the Board proceedings.” The NLRB is currently investigating these issues.

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