Well, this is a switch. Usually in a labor/management dispute, it’s the labor union that files unfair labor practice charges against the company. Not this time — today, the NFL filed such a charge against the NFLPA:
The NFL is claiming that the NFLPA is planning to decertify – dissolving and ostensibly becoming a trade association – that would then make a lockout of the players illegal. According to Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily, the “NFL charges NFLPA engaged in surface bargaining and asks NLRB to force union to engage.”
Naturally, the players association fired right back:
The NFLPA responded in a statement saying, “The players didn’t walk out, and the players can’t lockout. Players want a fair, new and long-term deal. We have offered proposals and solutions on every issue the owners have raised. This claim has absolutely no merit.”
As the article goes on to point out, decertifying is a risky move on the part of the players association. They did so in 1987 — and wound up seeing themselves replaced by “replacement players”, who played three games and messed up the standings, even for the Bears, whose replacements went 2-1. The Bears wound up 11-4, but lost a first-round playoff game to the Redskins.
The two sides seem to have dug in even harder with these statements; no new talks are scheduled and we are now at 17 days before the labor agreement expires. Many commentators have put the chances of a lockout at 95%. I’d say it’s closer to 100%.