It appears the players' union is on the verge of using some trickery to avoid a lockout.
Absent a last-minute agreement that no one around football expects, the NFL Players Association plans to decertify by Thursday in an effort to pre-empt an owners-generated lockout, according to multiple league and union sources.
Why are they doing this?
If the union decertifies, it is no longer a union, and the National Labor Relations Board loses its hold over the NFLPA. The owners are expected to claim the decertification is a sham and challenge it in the NLRB.
The primary reason for decertification would be to file for an injunction that, if granted, would prevent the owners from locking out the players. NFLPA officials and players believe that this could be the only hope to have a full NFL season next year. Furthermore, decertifying as a union prior to the expiration of the CBA would allow NFL players to seek injunctive relief and commence anti-trust action against owners in front of U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, who has had jurisdiction over the current labor agreement since 1993. Owners have attempted unsuccessfully to have Doty removed from jurisdiction and strategically want the CBA to expire to effectively eliminate his authority, a source said.
What happens if the NFLPA goes through with this? Nobody knows. It makes the situation very complicated. One thing it is sure to do is poison relations between the league and its players even further in future negotiations. Whether justified or not, this does feel like a bit of a stunt. The owners will not be very happy about it. Personal relationships matter. It seems like part of the reason D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold got deals done before Darrelle Revis last summer was the bitter relationship between Mike Tannenbaum and Revis' agents. When meeting face to face with somebody, it is more difficult to come to common ground with somebody you dislike personally. That is human nature.