Seahawks Insider

Morning links: Distrust at heart of labor issue

Post by Eric Williams on March 13, 2011 at 9:32 am with 36 Comments »
March 13, 2011 9:32 am
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, left, and Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys talk as they leave after negotiations with the NFL Players Association involving a federal mediator broke down without an agreement Friday, March 11, 2011 in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports provides a nice breakdown of the events leading up to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith announcing the union would decertify on Friday. Silver says the players’ union felt disrespected during the entire process, and even though the owners’ last-minute offer was significantly better, the players decided to take the dispute to court to get the financial transparency they’ve been seeking.

Silver:

“It’s tempting for frustrated NFL fans to tune all of it out and boil down the clash to its core issue. Obviously, this is a fight over money, and the inability of the owners and the NFLPA to agree on how to divvy up the $9 billion annual economic pie is the main reason they’re in this mess.

“Yet from the players’ perspective, control is very much at the heart of this fight, and it has been since the owners unanimously voted to opt out of the CBA in 2008, a mere two years after they’d agreed to an extension.

“From that point on, owners embarked upon a not-so-subtle strategy to “take back our league,” as enunciated by the Carolina Panthers’ Jerry Richardson to his peers last March. They were fully prepared to lock out the players until a decision by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty imperiled the uninterrupted television payments on which they’d been counting derailed their plans.”

Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated says the bottom line is there is a lack of trust between owners and players, and that the players are unwilling to give back $650 million per year to the owners without a verified reason for doing so.

Sports law attorney Michael McCann offers a road map of how the dispute between ownership and the players could play out in court for Sports Illustrated.

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports expects only a minor delay in free agency, with it starting in the next two to four weeks.

Dan Pompei of the National Football Post adds his name to the list of people around the league that believe quarterback Kevin Kolb landing in Seattle is a possibility.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports debates how much it will cost in terms of compensation for a team to get Kolb from Philadelphia.

The Seahawks were on hand to check out Division II prospect cornerback Prathon Wilkerson the Albany State product’s pro day on Friday.

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network offers his top 32 players in this year’s draft.

Categories:
Morning links
Leave a comment Comments → 36
  1. Dukeshire says:

    Distrust indeed. And when language in a court ruling says things like “The record shows that the NFL undertook contract renegotiations to advance its own interests and harm the interests of the players.” and that the NFL “consistently characterized gaining control over labor as a short-term objective and maximizing revenue as a long-term objective … advancing its negotiating position at the expense of using best efforts to maximize total revenues for the joint benefit of the NFL and the Players.”
    that distrust only grows (and is seemingly justified on behalf of the players).

  2. chuck_easton says:

    Things just might be looking up for the league.

    Justice Doty has not been assigned the case. I thought this might be the situation based on the fact that Justice Doty was the Judge assigned to NFL labor relations for the past 20 years pursuant to the old CBA.

    We now have a new case so the matter goes into the que and the next available Justice is assigned. The first Justice Recused himself because he worked for one of the law firms hired by the NFLPA.

    Here’s a bio on the new Judge as provided by CBSSPORTS:

    Will Brinson of CBSSports.com:

    The case already has been reassigned to Judge Patrick J. Schiltz. Nominated for the bench by George W. Bush in 2005, Judge Schiltz served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

    Not to bring politics into this, but this doesn’t sound like a Judge that will be sympathetic to a Union cause.

  3. Dukeshire says:

    Lol, not at all. I actually heard that yesterday on NFL Network but had forgotten the juge’s name before I had an opportunity to look him up. Thanks for the leg-work Chuck.

  4. Good job Chuck. I cannot believe the lawyers for the NFLPA would be so inept as to not know this was going to happen.

    If they were really banking on Doty, they just got jacked-up!

    My guess is there are going to be mulitple judges before this is thru.

    Shiltz , gonna have fun with that name. Especially if you are the loosing party.

  5. If the law is followed it should not matter the judge.The books will be opened in court.

  6. This case is in US District Court for Minnesota and has been assigned to Judge Patrick Schiltz. But the NFLPA is confident the case will be assigned to Judge David Doty, who has presided over the CBA since 1993 and has often sided with the players, because it is related to other cases.

  7. chuck_easton says:

    cerjam,

    You haven’t been following. Even if the Union is successful in getting Doty re-instated, the league will immediately petition the Court of Appeal to have Doty removed due to the fact he has made numerous rulings that appear to favor the Union. The argument will be that he has a favorable view of the Union.

    The league will be successful in getting him removed. Under the OLD CBA they couldn’t. That CBA is gone.

  8. CHawkFanIn9erLand says:

    I can understand the players feeling disrespected. Labor negotiations are a business process with one goal in mind … winning. It’s usually not a respectful process. Both sides have said and done things that can easily make the other feel disrespected.

    That being said, the players and owners have to be careful with those emotions. In my experience they seldom lead to rational decisions if the feelings go unchecked.

    Cerjam, I’m not saying that the courts won’t order the books opened, but it’s not nearly as clear as your comment suggests. There’s no bill of rights that says the employees or their attorneys have the right to audit their employers financials. The players may get that ruling in their favor, but it’s nowhere near a forgone conclusion.

  9. chuck_easton says:

    cerjam,

    Judge Doty has ruled 26-4 in favor of the players in his time assigned to the old CBA. Those rulings included the Starcaps cases in which he ruled that Minnesota law trumped Federal Law and allowed Minnesota players to keep playing dispite their suspension under the rules of the CBA.

    Each and every one of those Starcaps rulings were overturned by higher Courts.

    While this doesn’t indicate Doty is biased it does demonstrate an “appearance’ of bias and that is the test for having a Judge removed from a case. The Judge doesn’t have to be biased just would the ‘reasonable man’ consider him/her biased. The league has a good case for that argument.

  10. These guys ,owners,and plyers have got to be smart enough to get this deal done before it goes to removing Judges and appeals.As they fight over how to split the pie,the pie could just start shinking.If the fans get totally disgusted and stop our diminish our support.It does not matter who you blame the owners or the players together they may ruin the profitable NFL.Will they be that stupid?

  11. MattandCindy says:

    Anytime a product that a consumer (fans) loves changes, alters, or outright stops being produced by its maker (NFL & NFLPA), your going to have a LARGE percentage of those consumers complain, boycott,or find another product all together.

    Of course we as fans are pissed off. Any reasonable business owner would look at this situation and at least ponder the impact it would have on their fan base. I’m assuming that they believe that once a deal finally gets done, everyone will be so relieved that they’ll fall right back into line and start handing over the money again. I’m pretty sure that I will do just that…but I guarantee that at least SOME people won’t.

    P.S. – How can you take someone in a hat like that seriously? I used to not trust guys in tunics…and know I’m thinking cheesy pimp hats gets added to the list.

  12. My ? is can the PA ask for a different judge?

  13. chuck_easton says:

    moo,

    On what grounds? Once a Judge is assigned they can only be removed if there is something that would give an indication of conflict or bias.

    That is why the first Judge assigned had to recuse himself. He was a lawyer at the firm that represents the NFLPA and was with the firm during the time they ran the case that allowed free agency. He had a percieved conflict.

    This new Judge has made no rulings in the matter so nobody knows how he may rule.

    That is why Doty could potentially be removed by the league. He has a track record that could easily be argued as a preference for one side over the other.

  14. raymaines says:

    cerjam says: As they fight over how to split the pie,the pie could just start shinking.If the fans get totally disgusted and stop or diminish our support.

    Honest Mr. Cerjam, I’m not picking on you personally, but am only using your post as a springboard for my latest rant.

    The fans are the lowest form of life in this food chain. Neither the owners or players give a doodle about the fans. Nor should they! Fans are totally stupid, routinely get fleeced like sheep and love every minute of it. If a few of us fail to renew our seasons tickets and quit buying jerseys, some other fool will step up to take our place and the owners and players both know it. Fans are simply not a part of this squabble, and we are only deluding ourselves if we think we are.

  15. maddog12 says:

    The more I think about this the more I think the NFLPA maybe getting in over their heads. I don’t know what the players rep guy has on his resume other than a slight resemblance to a bulldog (not necessarily a bad thing). But, all the owners are very very sucessful business men who made their fortunes (for the most part). That means they have great lawyers, know contracts, and basicly how to remove obstatcles to what they want. Bank on the fact that for everyone owner there are a slew of people they out witted and maneuvered to make it.

    The NFLPA doesn’t seem to have the same level of game. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think the league is going to loose in this thing. The best deal was offered to the players on Friday and they balked. It will be interesting to see what they do end up with and how close it is to what was just offered.

    Now the two sides can go at it via the courts. In that venue, usually the richest people win and the lawyers always win.

  16. maddog12 says:

    Danny O has this quote from Paul Allen’s twitter:

    “NFL players bailed on deal worth billions, sacked collective bargaining & sued, which could take years to play out.”
    — Paul Allen, @PaulGAllen

    I hope they figure it out but we all know that the courts can move slowly. We could end up with an interim operating plan.

  17. Have you ever gone to friends home, say a couple who’ve been like the perfect couple, perfect hosts, and then witness a totally embarrassing flareup between them? Feels like that between the NFLPA & NFL owners.

    The other thing is the bit about some solidarity with the players. I totally respect Paul Allen for our team’s owner. We could never have asked for better. Even so, griping about how the players are at fault for being so greedy reminds me some of being a little crab caught in an open topped crab net that’s being hauled up, and grabbing at the bigger crabs above me keeping them from getting outta the net. Still, they do get paid prettty well. . .

    Which brings me to another question for all you legal-eagle types: Auto worker unions used to ‘pick on’ one manufacturer, reach a settlement with say, GM, and then Ford and the others would automatically agree to the same terms reached between the union and the first manufacturer. There’s no CBA. There’s no union. Why can’t the player’s association just line up every player on one of the teams and threaten to file suit against that team only? Reach a collective bargaining agreement with that team, or at least the basis for one, and see which other teams will go along. Then when you find a team that won’t, line up every one of their players and file suit, etc.

  18. maddog12 says:

    Good question klm008 maybe chuck Easton will answer it?

  19. AaronCurryIsBUST says:

    God I hate the evil and greedy owners pushing their Zionist agenda on us unassuming NFL fans. Dan Snyder, Zygi Wylff, Chip Rosenbloom, Jeffrey Lurie, Bob Kraft, etc I hope they’re happy about creating this ridiculous situation. I’m going to start watching UFC or hockey instead in protest.

  20. The NFL owners are trying to establish a Jewish state?

    SONOFA! I did NOT see that coming!

    /dons tinfoil hat
    //climbs in bunker
    ///stabs Aaron Curry voodoo doll

  21. Dukeshire says:

    maddog12 – Here’s a little background on Smith. Latham & Watkins is one of the heaviest firms in the country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeMaurice_Smith

  22. Palerydr says:

    Josch now that was some funny S… thanks for the laugh!

  23. maddog12 says:

    Duke- Thanks for the link.

    Lots of trail experience is sounds like. US Attorneys Office. Heady stuff.

    I did not see a lot of labor or antitrust experience. Time will tell on all this.

    The change of judge thing so quickly surprised me in that I did not hear anyone speak of it as a possibility at least until owners petitioned for a change.

  24. maddog12 says:

    Per Shefter ESPN.Com… Third judge now assigned… Susan Richard Nelson.

    NFLPA is still trying to lobby for Doty but now they got Nelson.

    Shiltz had to recuse himself because he had represented the NFL some how and because his last name sounds to much like Shiltz.

  25. CDHawkFan says:

    So did Goodell go without the tie and unbutton collar to look like he is ‘working’?

  26. Dukeshire says:

    Andrew Brandt over at NFP has done a fantastic job of breaking down where we are now and what is likely to happen next. A must read.

    http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Welcome-to-Courtroom-Football.html

    I think the case was simply re-assigned to someone more familiar with this particular area of law, rather than Schiltz recusing himself due to some conflict or another. Politically speaking (sorry) Nelson would seem to be more sympathetic to the union than Schiltz may have been, if we’re going down party lines.

    http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/112123419.html

  27. maddog12 says:

    Here is a link on Judge Nelson:

    http://judgepedia.org/index.php/Susan_Richard_Nelson

    Note she is an Obama appointee. I read also that she said she was a magistrate on a case of Dryer vs NFL. Don’t know if that means she has to beg-off or not.

  28. Dukeshire says:

    Sorry, not union. Association.

  29. Dukeshire says:

    It wouldn’t seem to be a conflict for her on any level. Perhaps Chuck can comment on this.

    http://sports-law.blogspot.com/2009/08/dryer-v-nfl-retired-nfl-players-sue-for.html

  30. Hey Chuck…

    I just wanted to thank you for bringing your background and professional experience in here to help shed some light on this thing. It’s quite interesting to hear your take on these matters.

  31. To me at least, I think a few things are clear.

    1) The NFL has no intention of opening thier books unless forced to, which is why they are so pissed the players turned to the courts. 1b) The NFL fears the courts will force thier books open. 1c) IF, and WHEN, the books are opened, many ugly things will come to light, not least of which will be multiple owners, and perhaps the league, to IRS investigation for tax fraud. The most obvious hinky trick the NFL most likely uses, is the hiding of profits by paying uninvolved family members huge salaries, or hiding profits in non-existent programs or “expenses”. Opening the books will expose these–IMO, rampant–illegal, immoral, and unethical tax dodges.

    2) The NFL never had any intention of settling with the Union unless they got thier way, bigtime. The fact that they deliberately shorted short-term financial gain to build an unethical, and illegal, nest-egg with which to operate on through a lockout proves this beyond a shadow of doubt. Comments from Jerry Richardson and other owners make this plain. They want to “take back THEIR league”. This lockout was planned for and designed by the League. Their incessant PR ploys to smear the players and the union only make this ever more clear and obvious.

    What the NFL wanted, and what they were sure they’d get, is a long-term strike without litigation, where they could blame the players for everything, then wait for the union to come crawling back, accept an ufair deal, and everything is great….for them, but not for players or fans.

    3) The league, and the owners, have an immense ammount of hubris, and this caused them to treat the players–many of whom are fine businessmen themselves–with utter contempt. Without this treatment, a compromise might have been reached. But that goes back to my earlier opinion that the league and owners had no intention of settling. Multiple reports emerged throughout the bargaining session of players livid with rage at their treatment by certain owners (chiefly Jerry Richardson), and some of the owners comments were printed. Jerry Richardson has outed himself as one of the last of the old guard, plantation-mentality owners. His attitude is that a) Players are stupid b) Players are overpaid and c) If Players werent stupid and overpaid, then they would be owners, not players, and that a, b, and c mean that Owners are better than players, and therefore owed more money. It is that attitude, communicated to the players, that pushed them over the edge and caused the Union to decertify and to seek litigation.

    4) Both sides are greedy. Both sides believe in the business model that a business is either growing or shrinking. As such, the believe that what best serves the NFL, owners, players, and fans, is an exponentially and continuinally growing league. To that end, its obvious that Goodell hopes to create the IFL, an international Football League, and that the costs associated with football will continue to rise forever and ever, amen. However, neither players nor the league is taking into account that the economy is faltering again, perhaps on the brink of a total collapse. They arent doing the math to see how many americans can actually afford to pay for an occasionaly NFL game, let alone season tickets, gear, etc. Nor are they paying attention to projections of increasing inflation robbing most americans of even more discretionary income.

    To me, the NFL, both players and league, are headed straight for a cliff, and refuse to admit it. The rage that will be generated by a protracted strike/lockout/legal mess will focus until-now distracted fans from the immense greed on both sides of this issue. Im sure Goodell and company would love to see the day when NFL single-game cheap seat tickets are $1,000 a pop. But there wont be 60,000 fans per city with the cash to pay that, no matter how they want to attend.

    For a little perspective, in 1993 Seahawks cheap seats tickets were $19.00. Now they are what, $60?! Do you make 300% more than you did at the same job 17 years later?! I know I dont. I make barely more than I did in 2000.

    The league and the players better watch out they dont 1) utterly alienate too many fans by thier greed and hubris, and 1) Price too many of thier fans right out of thier ability to cheer their team on. Its getting to the point that I cant even afford to watch Seattle on TV, as I cant afford cable, and they arent often on local TV, and bars cost too much. Never mind attend a game once in awhile.

    And no, I dont work at a fast food restaruant, I am a college graduate professional with a decade and a half experience in my field.

    If your company, in the midst of is largest profit ever for years running, came to you and said “We’re not making the kind of money we used to. In fact, we’re losing money, so we expect you to tear up your contract and work for a 20% pay cut for the next decade.” ,then refused to allow you to see financial statements proving their claim, and then to top it off, insulted you and basically said “trust us” “Youre too stupid to understand our complex documentation anyway”, how would you respond?

    Funny thing is, when the whole CBA expiring thing/strike/lockout began to seem real, sometime last year, I was blaming the union. Funny what happens when the facts start emerging.

  32. Dukeshire says:

    STTBM – I like it.

  33. Thanks, Dukeshire. Apologies for the tome. I was a little worked up. And I cant spell restaurant. :)

  34. Dukeshire says:

    It’s easy to get fired up about this whole thing. Lord knows I have been.

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