Monday, February 11, 2008

Well, It's Out in the Open Now

We've been ringing the alarm bells for a while -- a couple of times actually -- and now comes out in the open confirmation that the National Football League and its player's union are preparing for a good, old-fashioned labor battle.

An article in the most recent issue of Sports Business Journal includes a quote from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicating that the current collective bargaining agreement "is just not working" for the league's owners.

According to the article by Daniel Kaplan, both sides have until November 8, 2008 to opt out of the current agreement, though such a move can occur any time before that.

Meanwhile the players union continues to escalate their rhetoric, with union chief Gene Upshaw being quoted (via email) as saying "we are not giving [the owners] anything back. I put my Santa Claus suit away on Dec. 26 after we opened gifts. There were no presents for owners in my bag. Quote me on that please. I’m at the Pro Bowl, and the players understand exactly what is going on.”

According to the article the players will explore available options including "decertifying the union so the players could sue the league under antitrust laws."

A challenge of the NFL's antitrust exemption -- something that allows owners to limit the movement of franchises, and negotiate television deals -- would (to say the least) complicate matters tremendously.

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