Judge Ends NFL Lockout... For Now
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Apr 26, 2011 2:30PM
The NFL players have won the latest round in the league's labor saga, when U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordered an end to the 7-week-old lockout, "saying she believed the players' argument that the situation was causing irreparable harm to their careers." This would force NFL teams to open their facilities to players and league business would continue while the sides try to hammer out a new labor agreement, and in fact some players have shown up at their team's facilities this morning.
The NFL ownership, however, has already filed a notice of appeal in an attempt to get a stay of the ruling, which would keep the lockout in place. The longer the league's operations are shut for normal operations, the more likely that the players will see games, and thus paychecks, cancelled -- key leverage for the owners who are trying to extract better terms from the players.
If the owners do not get their stay on Judge Nelson's ruling, they are likely to run the league with rules similar to last year, since those rules were collectively bargained for with the players before their union decertified.
Given the conservative, pro-business nature of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, where the NFL filed it's notice of appeal, we fear these legal battles are far from over between the NFL players and owners. But the owners must be frightened by yesterday's ruling.
With popular sentiment favoring the players in this labor dispute, the league called upon commissioner Roger Goodell to take a metaphorical billy club to the players' kneecaps. In a Wall St. Journal op-ed, Goodell makes wild claims about how the players want a league with no limitations at all -- no draft, no salary cap, no minimum salary, no benefits, etc. How anybody could believe those claims, we don't know, because we have heard nothing anything remotely like that from the players' representatives. The players are the ones who wanted the agreed upon collective bargaining agreement in place to continue on. The team owners were the ones who decided to scrap a system that seemed to be working, because they wanted a larger cut off the top. Perhaps the owners think that there's more popularity for union busting than there really is across the country. Using leverage to screw the workers is the new American way. But while people don't care about the teachers in their kids' schools or about the guy who plows their roads, the care about their NFL football come September. Nothing changes the fact that if that doesn't happen, it was caused by the league and not the players.