If substantial progress toward a new NFL labor pact isn’t made soon, the NFL Players Association will no longer exist in its current form.
A source confirmed to FOXSports.com on Saturday that the players union will file for decertification by Thursday unless a new collective bargaining agreement appears imminent. The news was first reported by ESPN.
Decertification would dissolve the NFLPA as a union and prevent teams from locking out players as expected upon the CBA’s expiration Friday. The NFL already has contested any future decertification with the National Labor Relations Board.
Decertification also is needed to ensure any CBA-related player lawsuits against the league would be heard under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Judge David Doty, who has long held jurisdiction over CBA legal decisions. That is a power the NFL would like to see end because of what the league has privately claimed is a pro-NFLPA stance by Doty.
NFL players voted during the regular season to give executive director DeMaurice Smith the power to decertify if he deemed it necessary. If the NFLPA doesn’t file for decertification by Friday, the current CBA stipulates that decertification would be prevented for the next six months.
In what can be considered a last-ditch negotiating session before the CBA’s expiration, the NFL and NFLPA will meet again Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. NFL owners will then meet Wednesday in Northern Virginia to determine a course of action.
After both sides had reached an impasse, the FMCS hosted a week of meetings that ended last Thursday with the start of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. In a statement released after the sessions, FMCS director George H. Cohen said that "some progress was made but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties."
While both sides have agreed to not speak publicly about the meetings, there is privately little optimism on either side that an agreement can be reached in time to prevent the NFL’s first work stoppage since a 1987 players strike. A revised split of revenue and the NFL’s push for an 18-game schedule are the two biggest dividing issues.