After a day of confusion and contradiction on Friday, a day on which the NFLPA executive committee voted not to endorse the CBA proposal that it had spent ten months negotiating with owners, and on which the 32 player reps, meeting via conference call decided not to go forward with a scheduled vote, we finally have news of a face-to-face meeting between the owners and representatives that will take place on Tuesday at the Combine in Indianapolis, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
There had been a hope that, after the owners voted to approve the terms of the agreement on Thursday, the NFLPA leadership and representatives might follow suit on Friday, setting the stage for a speedy vote by the players.
Our statement on today's collective bargaining meeting: pic.twitter.com/MVOODW65fV— NFLPA (@NFLPA) February 21, 2020
While no “hard” deadline is in place for this year since the league can simply play out the season on the current labor agreement, there are a number of practical reasons why some had hoped or expected that agreement to the new negotiated deal was imminent.
The advantages of a quick approval of the proposed agreement would have included immediate implementation of the agreement (with any advantages it offers to each side), avoidance of both uncertainty and special rules that come with playing the 2020 season under the final-year provisions existing (2011) CBA, and certainty that would allow the league to pursue new broadcast rights agreements (and possibly tap into revenue from future legalized gambling opportunities) without delay or uncertainty.
Federal labor law requires that the full membership of the union be given the opportunity to vote on the proposal from owners, and the agreement can be ratified by a simple majority of 50 percent plus one. This means that the process could go forward and the proposal from owners could be adopted even without the full support of the management council or player representatives, but any delays in approval at this point will have ripple effects on this season, starting with designation of franchise tagged players, which can happen as early as 25 February, since there is one set of rules for such designation under the current CBA, but a different set of rules under the proposed agreement.
Pellisero reports that the owners and members of the union leadership will meet face-to-face on Tuesday, with the player representatives then voting on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, leading to a vote on the proposal by the full membership of the union, though there is no public report yet of exactly when that vote will happen.
There’s plenty of drama surrounding this high-stakes negotiation over the future of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS ADDED AFTER INITIAL STORY PUBLICATION:
An NFL owner, however, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that owners would not be receptive to further talks on the proposed CBA.
Owners say lots of things, not all of them accurate, and there is always room for minds to be changed, but this indicates a certain intransigence among the owners, at least for the moment. As we know, attitudes can soften during face-to-face discussions.
A simple majority of the full membership would be required to approve the CBA. Anyone who paid NFLPA dues during the 2019-20 league year — an estimated 2,100 players — is eligible to vote.
The reason I pasted this quote is simply to clarify that, to be eligible to vote, a member simply had to pay dues in 2019-20, and the estimated number of eligible voters is around 2,100.
The key information from the report is this:
Sources told Graziano there has been a discussion among union leaders and union lawyers on this point for several days, and they settled on having a full vote regardless of the recommendation of player reps.
I had seen speculation that this would happen, and the Pelissero report above says that federal law requires a full membership vote, but this is the first sourced report I have seen. It seems to confirm and advance Pelissero’s report.
There is a lot more information in the ESPN report that readers might find of interest, but it has all been written about in earlier public reports this week, so I won’t add it here. If you are interested in a quick summary of the key points of the agreement and the news surrounding it this week, I suggest clicking the link to the article and reading through it. It is not long, and presents a good overview of the situation as of Friday evening.