Archive for February, 2011

Report: AFL-CIO encouraging NFL players to “abandon collective bargaining”

“It’s not every day the AFL-CIO encourages workers to dismantle their labor union and abandon collective bargaining,” writes Chris Moody today in The Daily Caller, “but in the case of the NFL Players Association’s battle with team owners, Big Labor is cheering it on.

“While unions in states like Wisconsin and Indiana protest in defense of collective bargaining rights, the AFL-CIO is actively championing NFL players to dissolve their union and drop their AFL-CIO membership to better position themselves in a contract fight with the league’s owners,” Moody continues. “The players’ union is expected to disband its labor union so its athletes, many of them millionaires, can lock down a bigger payday.”

Said AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein, “We’re going to support the decisions that they make and what they feel is best to get to an agreement with the league and make sure there’s a decision next year and make sure there isn’t a lockout. They have a lot of different ways they’re considering to get to that agreement and that’s certainly one of them…They can always recertify the union.”

Patrick Semmens of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation questioned AFL-CIO support of the tactic.

“It certainly is hypocritical how hard they fight against regular employees having an up or down vote on getting rid of their union and at the same time they’ve encouraged it in this one instance,” Semmens said. “There aren’t really any principles behind what organized labor’s trying to do.”

Moody added further context, writing that “it would seem that the AFL-CIO is conceding that their traditional tactics are not always the most effective strategy for workers. But the NFL fight is different than most labor disputes: It’s rare, for instance, that the workers fighting the bosses each earn more than $300,000 per year, with many others raking in salaries in the millions.”

For the complete story, click here.

Statement by FMCS Director George H. Cohen on NFL-NFLPA Talks

WASHINGTON, D.C.— One week ago, the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association accepted the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s invitation to conduct their continuing negotiations under my auspices, together with Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. Because of the number and importance of the unresolved issues, I recommended and the parties agreed to a bargaining schedule commencing last Friday and continuing for seven consecutive days, through today.

Our time together has been devoted to establishing an atmosphere conducive to meaningful negotiations and, of course, matters of process and substance. I can report that throughout this extensive period the parties engaged in highly focused, constructive dialogue concerning a host of issues covering both economics and player-related conditions. The tenor of the across-the table discussions reflected a noteworthy level of mutual respect even in the face of strongly held competing positions. The parties met both in full committee and in subcommittees where discrete, technical issues lent themselves to smaller groups.

At bottom, some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties. Nonetheless, I recommended and the parties have agreed to resume the mediation process in my office commencing next Tuesday (March 1). During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.

I have shared the terms of this release with the parties, and they have authorized me to represent that it accurately reflects the course of mediation to date.

Due to the extraordinary sensitivity of these ongoing negotiations, the FMCS will refrain from any public comment while the mediation process continues and, further, I have requested and the parties have agreed to do likewise.

Joint NFL-NFLPA statement:

“George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, has requested, and both sides have agreed, that the NFL Players Association and the NFL refrain from making any public comments about any aspect of the mediation process. The process began today under the direction of Mr. Cohen.”

NFL and NFLPA agree to mediation

Statement by FMCS Director George H. Cohen on NFL Labor Talks

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the ongoing labor negotiations between the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association:

“I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement. At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under my auspices in Washington, D.C. commencing Friday, February 18.”

“Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS’s long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of those negotiations until further notice.”

Bob Batterman on CBA negotiations: “It is usually deadline bargaining”

NFL outside labor counsel Bob Batterman (left) said in a radio interview this morning on 790-The Sports Zone in Atlanta that negotiating up to a deadline is not unusual.

“Unfortunately, it is in the nature of collective bargaining,” he said. “It is a process in which it is usually deadline bargaining.  Sometimes you do go over the edge.  It is not usual when there are difficult, contentious issues that you have an early resolution.”

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union expires on March 4.

Batterman added that the NFL’s focus is to create an agreement that works well for everyone.

“The deal last time, Kevin Mawae, the president of the union and a terrific guy and a terrific football player who had a great career, said just a few weeks ago that the deal in ’06 was a great deal for the players.  I don’t remember if those were his words but the pendulum had really swung too far.  We are saying that in part,” Batterman explained.  “We are talking about righting this sport so that we can have the kind of growth for the next 15 years that we had for the past 15 years.  We are not looking to turn this back in time for purposes of sticking it to the players. We don’t want the players to be unhappy going forward.   We are trying to strike a balance.”

Batterman also addressed sharing financial records with the union.

“They have 100 percent of revenue information and they audit it annually.  They have, obviously, 60 percent of our expense is player cost, so they have every tidbit of information about player cost.  They also have total information about all of the other expense items for which we get credit under the salary cap system,” he said.

“Basically, the only thing left is profitability, which no league has ever been able to get a union to deal with in a legitimate context.  If it shows the Green Bay Packers are making $9 million a year and they used to make $34 million a year, it shows they are making fewer profits and less money, but what does it show in terms of whether $9 million is too much, too little or just the right number?  It doesn’t show anything.”

Following is the transcript:
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Wall Street Journal: NFL revenue flattens

Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal writes today on the NFL’s economics, noting that taxpaper money for new NFL stadiums has disappeared while average ticket revenue has flattened and the growth of broadcast revenue has slowed (below, Wall Street Journal chart – click chart for full-size image).

Add the fact that NFL players have doubled their compensation over the past decade and it is clear why as Jeff Pash says, we need a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that “will encourage growth in the game and will allow both parties and the fans to benefit from what we accomplish at the negotiating table.”


Writes Futterman, “Ticket revenues have been essentially flat for the past three seasons and given the economy, owners sense they’ve hit a ceiling (the average ticket costs about $76). With governments at every level facing deficits, the subsidy well is all but dry.”

“Another season of record NFL ratings should boost revenues from the broadcast networks and satellite provider DirecTV, but not as dramatically,” Futterman notes. “Revenues from media rights increased to $3.8 billion for 2010 from $2.6 billion in 2005—a 46% increase. But between now and 2013, the final year of the new broadcast contracts, fees will only increase $350 million, or about 9%.

“Add it all up and the owners are about $1 billion short of the growth in real dollars they were projecting the last time labor negotiations came down to the wire in 2006.”

Veteran football writer Tom Curran had it right last week: “NFLPA’s 50-50 offer isn’t what it seems”

Veteran NFL writer Tom Curran astutely discussed last week’s NFL labor negotiations in a story posted on the Comcast Sports New England website on Friday under the header “NFLPA’s 50-50 offer isn’t what it seems.”

“The NFLPA is looking pretty good. The owners? Demonized,” Curran wrote. “The truth? Not as cut and dried as the NFLPA will have you believe.  The 50-50 split is, in essence, what the players already enjoy. What about the 60 percent that players supposedly were already taking? Isn’t the 50 percent a 10 percent giveback?  

“Actually, the NFLPA has moved the goalposts on everyone. And – because of the complexity of the negotiations – it’s hard for fans and the media to realize that.”

“The NFLPA has always operated without including that $1 billion in their estimations of how much they make,” Curran continued. “They always signed off on the notion that they were getting 60 percent of the $8 billion. It was a landmark accomplishment when Gene Upshaw, the now-deceased head of the NFLPA, got close to that 60 percent mark in 2006.

“In reality, the players have ALWAYS (or at least since the new CBA was ratified in 2006) been getting $4.8 of the $9 billion in total revenues. That’s a smidge over 50 percent. But nobody included that $1 billion because it wasn’t going to owners or players, just being reinvested in the game.

“Now, though, the players are working off that $9 billion figure. And that’s where the math has gotten fuzzy. For them to come to the table on Wednesday and say, “We’ll take 50 percent of ‘all revenue’ instead of ‘total revenue’ ” is no concession. (Really, someone needs to tell me what the difference between “total” and “all” is.) That is about what they’re currently getting.”

“But the fact the players have always signed off on the math the way it was done,” Curran concluded, “a billion off the top and then 60 percent of the $8 billion – and are now changing their talking points to include the billion being used to grow the game is a little disingenuous.

“And it confuses the conversation immensely.”

For the complete story, click here.

50/50 split of “all” revenue is the status quo

There were reports last week that the negotiating session between the NFL and the players’ union ended after the union proposed a 50/50 split of all revenue. This was viewed by some as a new proposal by the union and a move toward the position of the clubs.

“Any interpretation that this was a new proposal and a move toward the clubs is not accurate,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “This was an offer to keep things where they are, to simply extend the status quo. It is consistent with what the Union has been saying for two years – just keep the current deal in place.  As Kevin Mawae has acknowledged, the players got a great deal in 2006.

“The CBA defines what ‘total revenue’ is in detail and gives the Union roughly 60 percent of that amount.  The Union has created a new measure of revenue, which it calls ‘All Revenue,’ and says that the players get 50 percent of that,” Aiello continued. “Saying they want 50 percent of this new revenue base, is the same as saying they want 60 percent of the existing revenue base.  It is a status quo deal.  That is exactly where we are today, and we have been clear that is unacceptable.  This reported offer by the Union last week is just one more offer to ‘just kick the can down the road,’ as Jeff Pash says, and keep things where they are.  There was no change in the Union’s position or movement off of their earlier proposals.”

Cardinals’ Jay Feely: “Players have never made more money”

Arizona Cardinals union representative Jay Feely said today on “Pro Football Talk Live” on NBCSports.com that NFL players have never made more money.

“We have record revenue, we have record TV ratings, we have record worth of franchises and players have never made more money,” Feely said.  “It is inherent on both sides to find a way to get a deal done.”

As Commissioner Goodell has stated, the goal is a fair agreement that works for the teams, players, and fans.

NFL player costs in 2009 were $4.5 billion. NFL players have doubled their compensation in the past 10 years, and the average player salary is about $2 million.

As Jay Feely says, “Players have never made more money.”

Commissioner Goodell: “We need an agreement both sides can live with”

“We need an agreement that both sides can live with and obtain what they need, not simply what they want,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in an op-ed that is appearing in newspapers across the country.

“Today’s collective bargain agreement does not work as it should from the standpoint of the teams,” he continued. “If needed adjustments are made, the NFL will be better for everyone. The first step is making sure a new collective bargaining agreement is more balanced and supports innovation and growth.”

Following is the complete op-ed column:


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