Now that the NFLPA and the NFL have had their annual meetings to vent about the other side and their tactics, we are at the same place we were when talks broke off on March 11th.
The NFL wants to negotiate/mediate more with the union. The NFLPA says they are no longer a union and the NFL can talk to their lawyers, which they won’t, since they don’t believe the NFLPA is not still a union. Confused?
Well, for some clarity, let’s go to the lawsuit (yes, I said that). In advance of the April 6th Preliminary Injunction (PI) hearing where the Players will attempt to enjoin (stop) the lockout, the NFL submitted their supporting brief on Monday.
Here’s a primer on the NFL’s argument to deny the Players the PI:
What are the NFL’s main arguments?
1. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must resolve the NFL’s unfair labor practice charge prior to the U.S. District Court in Minnesota (the Court) making a ruling;
2. The Players do not meet the legal standard for the issuance of a preliminary injunction; and
3. The Norris-LaGuardia Act (the Act) prevents the U.S. District Court in Minnesota (the Court) from issuing an injunction to block either lockouts or strikes in cases arising from labor disputes, as here
What does this mean?
One argument is jurisdictional, arguing the case should be in front of the NLRB rather than the Court. The other argument is procedural, as the NFL argues that the NFLPA’s decertification was a “flip of a switch” that cannot immediately turn valid and legal collective bargaining tools — such as the lockout — into an instant antitrust violation.
Key issue: Court or NLRB?
The NFL claims that the unfair labor practice charge it filed with the NLRB on February 14, and amended last week, is a pending matter whose resolution is needed before Brady v. NFL can proceed. The NLRB will determine whether the NFLPA’s decertification was made in good faith or done for purely tactical reasons.
The NFL is asking the Court to defer to the NLRB, which has substantial specialized knowledge and expertise in labor matters.
The NFL also argues about incompatible results. If the Court were to block the lockout, what happens if the NLRB later determines that the NFLPA’s decertification was illegitimate? Whose ruling takes precedence? Arguably, the possibility of contradictory results would present a legal challenge.
Decertification a legal strategy, not in good faith
The NFL points out the past as instructive on the NFLPA’s present strategy.
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