As the 2011 NFL Combine continues to roll along today, the NFL-NFLPA labor battle continues to loom large. One source is reporting the NFLPA is set to decertify sometime before the CBA expires this Thursday. The two sides conducted seven straight days of negotiations through earlier this week but even the mediator acknowledged the two sides remained far apart. The NFLPA met with agents recently and there are mixed reports as to where the two sides are at in negotiations. One agent reportedly texted Adam Schefter the lockout would be going into September, while another agent reported that Schefter received bad information.
At this point it seems like the mediator is the best source of information given his released statement and where he stands in this process. Given his comments, this week looms large for both sides. The two sides will reportedly meet again on Tuesday March 1 to continue negotiations. However, with the CBA set to expire at 11:59pm eastern time on Thursday night, time is definitely short.
According to the terms of the current CBA, if the NFLPA does not decertify before Thursday’s expiration, the union would have to wait six months to decertify. Given the leverage this maneuver provides, it would seem to provide even greater motive to decertify by Thursday night. If the union were to decertify the players could file an injunction prevent a lockout. If the owners attempted to implement their terms, individual players would then have standing to file antitrust lawsuits against the league. While in a bargaining unit the players do not have such standing, as the NLRB retains jurisdiction. However, a decertified union no longer falls under the NLRB’s jurisdiction.
This Tuesday’s meeting between the players, the league and mediator George Cohen looms large. Cohen suggested both sides spend the weekend reassessing their positions on important core issues. If they do not budge on Tuesday or Wednesday, we would appear to be destined for a lengthy battle that would likely end up in federal court.