04.13.2011 0

What is the NFLPA up to these days?

By Adam Bitely – Following the beginning of the “lockout” in the NFL, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) decertified itself as a labor union — meaning that it no longer represents the players to the team owners.

According to the National Football Post, the NFLPA announced within moments of decertifying that they “will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.”

Essentially, this announcement was to signal that they have downgraded their status so that the players can begin litigation. This move was all about the lawsuits with a specific goal. Break the owners in the court room and force the owners to do what the NFLPA wants.

Had the NFLPA not decertified as a union, under the law, the players could not bring lawsuits alleging anti-trust violations against the owners to the court room. In essence, the NFLPA decertified in name only—as the NFLPA is still playing a role in representing the players, and can even supply lawyers to help the players in their lawsuits. Further, the NFLPA plans to represent the players again at a future date as soon as the lawsuits are settled and a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the owners.

But this brings forth an interesting question. Can the NFLPA decertify and still act as the sole bargaining unit for the players?

That’s exactly what the NFL owners are wondering too.

The NFL brought forth a case to the National Labor Relations Board wondering whether the NFLPA could use a decertification move to force the hand of the NFL owners. Essentially, the owners are arguing that the NFLPA used the threat of decertification knowing that the players would file anti-trust litigation.

It would appear that the NFL has a point. Especially when you consider that as the talks broke down on the day the lockout began, the NFLPA almost immediately decertified and the players quickly followed by filing their lawsuits.

Whatever the NLRB determines, it appears that the NFLPA is using their decertification to gain a upper hand in further collective bargaining negotiations. By using the players to file lawsuits, the NFLPA hopes that the court system will force the owners to capitulate more than they would have under normal terms of negotiation.

The NFLPA says they were left with no choice but to decertify. But were they?

They had their ducks in a row rather quickly when it came to decertification and filing lawsuits. The NFLPA’s claim that they have nothing to worry about on the NLRB front is bold, as the planning of such post-lockout moves would have been made while the NFLPA was still considered a labor union and not a trade association.

Labor law is tricky and labor unions are even trickier. The NFLPA has been flagrantly blaming the owners for premeditating a lockout, but it appears that the NFLPA has premeditated a decertification and trial-lawyer fueled negotiations.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamBitely.

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