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Old 03-13-2011, 12:12 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default NFL owners impose lockout

NFL owners impose lockout
Sunday, March 13, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
Steelers president Art Rooney II on the lockout: "I remain optimistic that eventually cooler heads will prevail and we will be back at the bargaining table in the near future."

As expected, National Football League owners imposed a lockout of players from all 32 teams, pushing the labor issues between the sides a step closer to litigation and bringing the first work stoppage since 1987 to a professional sports league that is regarded as the most successful in the world.

Less than 24 hours after the NFL Players Association decided to decertify as a union, the league said Saturday that it was exercising its legal right to institute a lockout, a move that will prohibit any of the league's nearly 1,700 players from visiting their team's offices or training facilities, having official conversation with any coaches or front-office personnel and strip them of any salary, bonuses or insurance and medical coverage during the work stoppage.

Despite its action, the NFL said in a statement Saturday that its member clubs, including the Steelers, want to continue to negotiate with the players.

The NFLPA filed to decertify as a union moments before the current collective bargaining agreement expired at 5 p.m. Friday. That halted the union's intent to further negotiate a labor agreement for the players and immediately initiated an antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Minneapolis that would prevent a lockout. The 52-page claim, filed in the U.S. District Court of Judge David Doty, seeks class-action status for the players. The claim invokes the Sherman Act; players said under that statute, they were entitled to triple the amount of any damages they've incurred during the lockout, meaning the stakes could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The NFL is willing to negotiate an agreement that is fair to the players, our teams and our fans," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement Saturday. "We do not believe the decertification of the Players Association is a legitimate bargaining tactic, and we have asked the National Labor Relations Board to review the conduct of the Players Association.

"I remain optimistic that eventually cooler heads will prevail and we will be back at the bargaining table in the near future."

Shortly after the lockout was confirmed, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league general counsel Jeff Pash each said they were slashing their salaries to $1 during the work stoppage. Mr. Goodell makes about $10 million annually, including bonuses; Mr. Pash makes about $5 million a year.

Several teams have indicated they will begin money-saving measures and furloughs during the lockout. There are no indications the Steelers have plans to lay off front-office workers or reduce salaries for the lockout.

"The clubs believe that this step is the most effective way to accelerate efforts to reach a new agreement without disruption to the 2011 season," the NFL said in its statement.

The NFL has released what it said was a summary of its proposal to the union:

It would split the economic difference between sides, increasing the proposed salary cap for 2011 significantly and accepting the union's proposed cap number for 2014 ($161 million per club).

An entry-level compensation system would be based on the union's "rookie cap" proposal, rather than the wage scale proposed by the clubs. Under the NFL proposal, players drafted in rounds 2-7 would be paid the same or more than they are paid today. Savings from the first round would be reallocated to veteran players and benefits.

A guarantee of up to $1 million of a player's salary for the contract year after his injury, the first time that the clubs have offered a standard multiyear injury guarantee.

Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety by: reducing the offseason program by five weeks, reducing OTAs (organized team activities) from 14 to 10 and limiting on-field practice time and contact; limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season; and increasing number of days off for players.

Commit that any change to an 18-game season will be made only by agreement and that the 2011 and 2012 seasons will be played under the current 16-game format.

Owner funding of $82 million in 2011-12 to support additional benefits to ex-players.

Offer current players the opportunity to remain in the player medical plan for life.

Third-party arbitration for appeals in the drug and steroid programs.

Improvements in the Mackey plan for brain injuries, disability plan and degree-completion bonus program.

A per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.

The NFLPA countered by releasing a statement that said, "THE PLAYERS WANT TO KEEP PLAYING: The players offered repeatedly to continue working under the existing CBA, but were rejected by the NFL five times.

"Despite publicly admitting no club was losing money, that TV ratings, sponsorship money, etc. were at an all time high, the NFL continued to insist on an 18-percent rollback in the players' share of revenues."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11072...#ixzz1GSPwmeMo
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