Decertification: All In

It’s March third, the final day of the NFL collective bargaining agreement between the players Union and the owners.  While two states are battling fiercely over Union rights, the NFL players are set to decertify theirs.

The States of Ohio and Wisconsin are on the verge of eliminating all public employee Union rights to negotiate Health and Pension benefits and make it illegal to strike.  A vote that effectively takes away all Union choices and the avenues to protest or appeal.  Meanwhile the NFL players Union is planning on disbanding their Union, or Decertifying, in an effort to take away the advantage the owners have.

Decertifying will mean the Union will cease to exist.  This is being done for one reason, so the players can file an anti-trust lawsuit against the owners and place the negotiations into the courts.  That is where the players feel they will have a level playing field against the owners and take the negotiations out of the hands of both side and force a judge to rule.

Gene Upshaw, the now-late former Director of the Players Association, did this same thing in the early 90’s and it worked.  It forced the owners to negotiate through a judge.  The same Judge that will rule should the players go this route on March 4th.

The Honorable Judge David Doty, who earlier this week ruled in favor of the NFL Players on the complaint against the owners for misusing 4 Billion dollars in Television revenue, will again be the Judge in the suit against the owners in Minneapolis.   Doty has long been known as a Union arbiter and his rulings could alter the direction of this lockout.

The Owners are obviously crying foul before the players even play their hand.  According to the Owners decertification is a sham and a play to take away the spotlight from the real problems and the failure to address them.  However this argument carried no weight in the 90’s.  This time the owners have different attorneys, a pair of “take no prisoners” types in Jeffrey Pash and Greg Levy.

There is a pair of timetables facing the players and owners once decertification is accomplished.  The players will first file for an injunction quickly to stop the Lockout.  This argument could make or break negotiations.  If Doty rules in favor of the players, business as usual will continue.  Players will be allowed in complexes, can work with coaches and mini-camps can continue.  Should the Judge rule against the injunction, then the lockout will continue and a long period of litigation could be forced by either side with motions and continuances.  Thus still jeopardizing the season.

Under decertification, there will no longer be an NLRB mediator.  Who had no power over the procedure in the first place.  Negotiations can and will continue inside the courthouse and under the supervision of Judge Doty.  Doty will, in essence, become the mediator with power.  Doty will control the meetings and the progress.  He will be able to rule on any disputes.   This means there will be no one walking away from the table.

This is a move by the players that is not unexpected.  The owners are ready for it and working on a plan for it.  Now the fate of 9 Billion comes down to one person.

Judge David Doty.

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