St. Paul Pioneer Press: NFL players union chief tells St. Paul fans, laborers that a lockout would hurt them, too

Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported further on NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s visit to Minnesota on Tuesday (see below post).

According to Murphy, Smith also “attacked the NFL for threatening to discontinue” player health care in the event of a work stoppage.

“With all due respect, hits over this weekend have gotten more press coverage than the fact that 5,000 to 6,000 family members in the NFL stand to lose their health care in March,” Smith said. “We’ve got several kids on kidney dialysis. We’ve got at least one who’s in need of a heart transplant.

“While I would love to live in the world where I just react to something that happens on Sunday, I’ve got 1,900 players and another 5,000 family members with more at stake.”

Murphy also noted the NFL’s response to Smith’s.

“This is yet one more reason to get back to the bargaining table and get an agreement,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “But there is no question that a strike or lockout triggers rights under a federal law known as COBRA that allows employees to continue their existing health insurance coverage without interruption or change in terms — either at their expense or their union’s expense.

“This means that no player or family member would experience any change in coverage for so much as a single day because of a work stoppage. The union surely knows this, and there is no excuse for suggesting otherwise.”

Aiello also noted the NHL Players Association paid for substitute health coverage for its members during the 2004-05 lockout.

For the complete story, click here.

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