Tag:Labor Talks
Posted on: March 8, 2011 12:51 am

NFL, NFLPA adjourn early from mediation Monday

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA, as of 12:01 AM Tuesday, have one less day to solve the NFL's labor situation.

Fortunately, both sides are still heavily embroiled in negotiations, fighting through the night to make sure that the fans get ... WAIT, WHAT? They went WHERE? To dinner? And they never came back?!?!

Alright, I knew they left already. But they really did go to dinner and never come back, after only mediating for five hours.

Which is totally fine, if the entire fate of the NFL weren't hanging in the balance of this coming week (and, possibly, any time that's added onto the current CBA extension).

There is some good news, though -- our own Mike Freeman reports that there's no additional "acrimony" during the talks, and there are reports circulating that the two sides have narrowed the revenue gap from $1 billion to $750 million (or thereabouts).

It's also possible that the two sides will be meeting later in the evening if called by the mediator, but at this point in time (nearly 1:00 AM EST) that seems pretty unlikely. Plus, everyone probably had a long day traveling and they should all really rest up for the coming days of heavy mediation.

Actually, mediation will resume at 9:00 AM EST on Tuesday, and hopefully some headway will be made early in the morning when everyone's well rested.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:46 am

Union was within '5 minutes' of decertifying?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a week-long extension of the CBA on Friday. That week is actually five days, however, because of the weekend. Which means Monday (aka today) is one of five days left on the calendar -- barring an additional extension -- to save football.

And it nearly never happened. According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, an anonymous member of the NFLPA Executive Committee walked into the mediation workroom and informed union president Kevin Mawae -- in the presence of Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash and DeMaurice Smith -- that the union was decertifying.

"We're done! We're decertifying," the anonymous player said, according to Trotter.

Oh yes, and that player added a throat slash while doing so, which is a pretty aggressive negotiation tactic, to say the least.

Matt Jones and I covered this extensively in the labor podcast that dropped earlier today -- decertification would have some serious implications in terms of how it could harm the owners' pockets if things ended in the NFL's worst-case scenario. (As Matt put it, it would basically become like European soccer.)

NFL Labor

Whether or not the throat slash/declaration combo actually caused the owners to blink and sign off on the 7-day extension would be fun to find out, but it won't guarantee a labor deal getting done this week. The only thing that will guarantee it is if the two parties get down to business Monday and crank through every issue. 

So, naturally, the CBA mediation between the two sides will begin at ... 3 PM EST?

Apparently so -- Albert Breer of the NFL Network said the because "folks [are] traveling in the AM to get" to Washington, D.C., things aren't getting kicked off as promptly as they could.

This is rather odd -- both sides took a weekend break from these very negotiations knowing they'd need to be back at the bargaining table for a hard week's worth of figuring out the future of America's most popular sport.

Everyone involved knew they'd need to be in the nation's capital today for the talks. Which means that everyone involved could have likely figured out a way to align their travel plans in such a manner as to make sure that mediation was able to start at least by noon.

That being said, a 3 PM start time can always equate to an all-night mediation session. But given how much is at stake over the next week (again, barring an additional extension), everyone who cares about the NFL would probably prefer seeing the two sides maximizing their ability and time to negotiate.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times says negotiations will go into the evening hours Monday night. Both sides will take a dinner break and then resume talking. Batista also says that it was NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler who delivered the decertification threat.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:58 pm

Report: NFL, NFLPA agree to 7-day extension

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday, the NFL and NFLPA ran up to the deadline, but eventually walked out of CBA negotiations with a 24-hour extension of the agreement's expiration. It was widely believed those 24 hours would be used to negotiate a new extension, and it appears that's what has happened, with the owners and union agreeing to extend the CBA for an additional seven days.

That's according to both Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Adam Schefter of ESPN, the latter of whom has it "confirmed" that the two sides will extend the deadline to next Friday, with "talks" continuing through 5 PM EST.

Mediation is expected to resume Monday, however, which means that the 7-day extension is technically only one "work week," which is the equivalent of five days, because both sides will adjourn talks during the weekend.

That's not a guarantee, of course, and it's not necessarily negative, as it gives each side the chance to really evaluate their willingness to face a work stoppage and prepare for the coming week of mediation.

All of it remains in the realm of "cautious optimism," because mediation isn't binding, reports are still lingering that the two sides aren't necessarily close to an agreement, and according to Trotter, the union executive committee still needs to approve the extension.

But both sides -- and, more importantly, the fans -- find themselves in a better place Friday than they were Thursday at the same time.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:45 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:12 am

Union already agreed to 7-10 day extension?

Posted by Will Brinson

It's widely believed that Thursday's 24-hour extension in CBA negotiations is merely the first step for a longer extension (both Clark Judge and I wrote that very notion earlier on Thursday).

And, reportedly, the union has already hopped on board with such an extension -- Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that George Cohen, the Director of the Federal Mediation Counseling Services, has already convinced the union to agree to a 7-to-10-day extension.

Provided that's true, the league only needs to consent, and then the two sides can stop bargaining about how long they should extend the talks, and get down to the nitty gritty.

That's not a given, of course, but the recent momentum swing seems to favor the players -- particularly given Judge Doty's decision on television contracts. And with the risk of a late-afternoon Friday decertification play by the union forcing things to a head, it certainly seems prudent for both sides to push the deadline back even further.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 6:04 pm

CBA negotiations extended 24 hours

Posted by Will Brinson

The CBA was set to expire at 11:59 EST Thursday but the NFL and NFLPA reached a 24-hour extension to keep their negotiating window open.

That's according to Jeff Saturday, Colts center and one of the members of the NFLPA present at the negotiating session. Kara Henderson of the NFL Network first reported the news.

This is good news, and as our own Mike Freeman wrote, reason for hope. But it's not salvation for football fans, and right now, it's only a very small step towards some sort of resolution.

"For all those that dig our game, we appreciate your patience as we work through this," DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA, said. "We're going to keep working we want to play football."

That doesn't necessarily mean anyone should take an optimistic approach towards the labor situation, because things are still very much in a tenuous stage. There's 30-some odd hours for the two sides to decide between a number of choices: 1) hammering out their issues and getting a new deal done; 2) going to war in the courtroom because no deal can be reached; or 3) negotiating a new deadline for the expiration of the CBA.

The third option is the biggest reason for optimism right now -- if the NFL and NFLPA can continue to extend the expiration date, they'll continue to be pressed up against a deadline and therefor be more likely to concede certain bargaining positions. Indeed, similar thing happened in 2006 -- in terms of a short extension -- and the result of that was a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

That doesn't guarantee such an occurrence in 2011, but the simple fact that the talks are continuing means that the two sides are at least trying to make something happen. And that's better news than we had earlier Thursday.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:55 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 4:51 pm

Top QBs to be plaintiffs in any antitrust suit?

Posted by Will Brinson

So here's a fun twist to the crazy reports that are swinging the NFL labor mood on the final -- barring an extension -- day of the current CBA: if the union decertifies and files an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL owners (a very real possibility), then Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are willing to play the role of lead plaintiffs.

This report is currently percolating around NFL circles -- Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Albert Breer of the NFL Network first reported it -- and it's pretty huge news.

Why? Well, think about any time you've ever seen a high-profile court case. You identify, whether you know it or not, with one of the sides. And the way you perceive the sides a lot of times depends on not just what you know about that side, but who is representing the respective interests.

Put a better way, when the words "players versus the owners" get thrown around, everyone immediately thinks "millionaires fighting with billionaires."

But if Manning, Brees and Brady -- three immensely popular and likable guys -- are suddenly against the owners, it changes the public perception completely.

The obvious counterargument to that point is that no one makes more money than that trio of quarterbacks. My response: except the owners.

Look, find someone who knows nothing about sports, and that person can probably still identify all three quarterbacks we're talking about.

They're not poor peasants toiling against "the man," but they are tremendously popular and likable celebrities with the benefit of having never engaged in any sort of behavior that gives the public any reason to hate them.

Outside of winning a bunch of Super Bowls anyway.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 4:13 pm

Other football leagues an option for NFL players?

Posted by Mike Freeman

If there is a prolonged work stoppage in the NFL several agents said their NFL clients have expressed a desire to practice with either United Football League, Canadian Football League or Arena League teams. Some players, incredibly, are even thinking about playing in games in these leagues should a lengthy lockout or stoppage happen.

Such a move would seem to be incredibly stupid for a young NFL player. The risk of injury in these leagues would be high for comparatively little money.

But the concern some players apparently have is they'd get so far out of football shape that continuing the contact portion of the sport is worth the risk because they'd have an advantage over other NFL players once practices and games started.

Now, let's be clear. We're not going to see Tom Brady playing for the Toronto Argonauts.

But it's very possible some lower tier NFL players go this route.

This is how it would work.

The union decertifies. Owners then say: we're not in business. The battle moves to the courts for months. Basically, under that scenario, players are free agents. They can play wherever they want.

So several low-level players would then go to the CFL, UFL or AFL for playing experience as the lockout droned on. Then once the season starts they'd be more ready than those who weren't playing.

"As long as the player is not under contract with another league, he is allowed to practice with an AFL team," Evan Vladem, spokesman for the AFL, told CBSSports.com. "To practice, the player must be under AFL contract or sign a one-day waiver with the league. With that being said, a free agent could play on an (AFL) team; however, we are very confident that the NFL will play this season. We work well in conjunction with the NFL abd they have supported us and our players greatly."

This entry was cross-posted from Mike Freeman's FreeStyle Blog. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 6:07 pm

Report: NFL owners could survive 2-year lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

There's always reason for cautious optimism surrounding an NFL work stoppage because, at some point, one of the sides is going to need some and eventually cave.

A report from CNN Money, which cites a Standard and Poor's rating agency note, pushes that point, at least for the owners, a little further out than folks would like to hear. Just how far? Two years far.

The S&P claims to have "confidential debt ratings on various stadium bonds" and "tracks teams' finances," and the primary logic behind the 2-year timeline is that the NFL owners will continue to collect revenue from television contracts.

That revenue will need to be paid back (plus interest!) if games are missed, but saving up for that payback doesn't necessarily preclude the owners from sitting tight on the cash they're bringing in and/or investing it.

Remember too that the NFL's said teams will reimburse season ticket holders for the cost of games not played. This is pretty nice of them, but it's also a pretty smart method of generating income that can be invested and/or create interest that results in, basically, free money to offset the losses needed to pay back fans and networks for games lost. (Yes, this assumes a wise investment of said money.)

Additionally, the S&P factored in a potential $900 million fund that the owners can tap into to assist clubs in surviving a prolonged lockout in the event football isn't being played.

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Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com