The NFL has taken a strong step against the NFL Players Association by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the players’ union. As a potential 2011 NFL Lockout looms, this kind of action is not a step in the right direction. The NFL is claiming the union is conducting surface bargaining during these negotiations. The basic idea of surface bargaining is that one party is “going through the motions” and not seriously attempting to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. The NFL is apparently citing to the de-certification strategy as one example of potential surface bargaining.
An unfair labor practice charge is serious, but at the same time the two sides can continue negotiating even as this issue is being dealt with by the National Labor Relations Board. One of the primary strategies of the NLRB is to try and mediate through disputes to avoid an eventual Board hearing. They’ll have both sides work towards this even if a hearing eventually takes place. Resolution has been reached as late as midway through an NLRB hearing.
Negotiations broke down last week after some issues with revenue sharing proposals (among other things), but the two sides have reportedly been continuing to talk in small group communications. The PR battle continues as player rep Domonique Foxworth recently spoke about the “whack-a-mole” strategy he believes the owners are employing.