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NFL answers questions on work stoppage for fans


1. What are the main NFL points on the current labor dispute and work stoppage?

  • The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to reengage the mediation process.
  • The union left a very good deal on the table. Now any deal gets devalued by big losses from a work stoppage.
  • The union's abandonment of bargaining has forced the clubs to take action they very much wanted to avoid (the lockout).
  • Mediation is the most effective way to reach a new agreement before any disruption to 2011 season.
  • The longer it goes, more negative the consequences will be for players and teams.

*2. How are teams operating and what are their plans?   *

  • Teams will follow league rules.
  • Teams will plan for how to get the club ready at whatever point this is resolved.
  • Teams are preparing for the draft as normal.
  • Teams will be developing events for fans - both in the community and at their facilities.

3. What is decertification?

  • It is a tactic in which the union disclaims interest, or decertifies as the NFLPA calls it, in representing its members in collective bargaining and purports to go out of business as a union. It has to be done in good faith and not strategically for short-term litigation leverage.  It cannot be done with the intent of returning as a union.
  • The NFLPA did this in 1989 and filed an antitrust suit against the league, the settlement of which in 1993 became the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The NFLPA then returned as a union. The league considers the Union's action in 1989 a sham decertification. The league considers the action of March 11 a sham decertification.
  • The same NFLPA lawyers (Jeff Kessler and Jim Quinn) that were involved the last time also represent the union now.

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4. Can the union really go out of business?

  • It is not believed the union has any intention of permanently going out of business or permanently refusing to represent players in collective bargaining, same as in 1989 when it "decertified" and then returned to business-as-usual as a union in 1993.

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5. Can a court stop the lockout and, if so, what will happen?

  • Yes, that is possible, including temporarily.
  • If that happens, the NFL will inform clubs of how to operate based on the court's decision.
  • The NFL's attorneys will challenge any court intervention in the labor dispute, which it believes should be governed by labor law.
  • The dispute is best settled at the bargaining table. 

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6. Why is the NRLB (National Labor Relations Board) complaint important to the CBA?

  • The NFL's complaint states that the union has not bargained in good faith and has planned all along to run out of the clock in order to implement its decertification and litigation strategy.
  • The NFL is asking the NLRB to order the union to act like a union and bargain in good faith as required by federal labor law.
  • The NFL's position is that federal labor law supersedes antitrust litigation.

7. Can there be negotiations even while court cases are ongoing?

  • The NFL is challenging the union's strategy to "decertify" in the unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB.  That charge is pending.
  • The NFL believes a court must stand down and defer to the NLRB while that charge is pending and the two sides should continue to negotiate.
  • If the union is allowed to "decertify" and abandons it responsibility to collectively bargain for the players, we do not have a union with which to conduct collective bargaining.

8. Why are the teams and the union at this point?

  • Union President Kevin Mawae stated publicly that the players got a great deal in 2006, clear indication of a one-sided agreement they do not want to change.
  • The current CBA is flawed in many respects. Continuing with the status quo is not acceptable.
  • A fair agreement is needed that will improve the quality of the league and benefit players, clubs and fans.
  • Status quo means an unhealthy business model, no improvements for retired players, no changes to rookie pay, no improvements to the drug program, limited incentive to invest in improvements of the fan experience.

9. Why hasn't the NFL and teams "opened the books"?

  • The NFL offered to show the union league-wide and club profitability data and have it verified by a mutually agreed-upon third-party auditor. This is information not even shared with the clubs. The union refused to look at it.
  • The union has more financial information now than it has had in any previous negotiation.
  • Federal labor law dictates the level of financial transparency required in collective bargaining.
  • The NFL fully supports those principles and has provided financial information that goes far beyond the requirements of federal labor law.
  • The union has a revenue-sharing arrangement in the CBA that gives it audit rights to all league revenue and all costs that are part of the system.
  • The NFL also showed the union all costs that it is asking to be recognized in a new agreement.
  • The NBA has opened its books and the NBA players' union called them untrue and still does not accept the numbers.
  • The demand to "open the books" is a negotiating tactic.
  • The players negotiated the scope of financial transparency in the 2006 negotiations and obtained a "great deal" under the current level of transparency.

10. Should politicians get involved in the lockout?

  • It is imperative that the parties work this out at the bargaining table. Political involvement has never succeeded in aiding a resolution to a labor dispute. In fact, political interference generally hinders progress.
  • The NFL wants to keep everyone informed, including interested elected officials.
  • The NFL has a track record of responsibly managing its business, including many years of labor peace.
  • The NFL believes the negotiations have to be worked out by the two parties as required by labor law, including the assistance of federal mediation.

11. How will we stay coordinated with the league?

  • The league office will keep the clubs fully informed and provide guidance in all areas of your operation.

12. What is permitted in terms of teams interacting with players in a lockout?

  • Teams will not have interaction with players except for very limited exceptions.
  • Those exceptions are for club-sponsored charitable events and for team doctor off-site visits to see players rehabbing from football injuries. Trainers may have contact with a third-party medical provider of a player.

13. What is the last day an agreement can be reached and a full season still be played?

  • That date has not been determined.
  • The playing schedule for the full 2011 season is being developed and will be announced as it normally is in mid-April.

14. Will the draft go on even without a CBA?

  • Yes. The 2011 Draft is part of the expired CBA.
  • The Draft will take place on April 28-30 (starting again in prime-time on Thursday night) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

15. How much money will the league lose if there is no agreement by September 1?

  • Projections are that the players and teams jointly will lose $1 billion in revenue if there is no agreement by Sept. 1.

16. How many free agents are affected by a lockout?

  • There are currently 500 free agents -- veteran players with no contracts.
  • Normally, many of those free agents are signed in March and paid significant signing bonuses.
  • Roster bonuses due to veteran players per their contacts will not be paid during a lockout.
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