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SBD/Issue 48/Leagues & Governing Bodies
NFL Filing In American Needle Case Could Impact Labor Relations
Published November 18, 2009
CASE COULD BRING "DIRE CONSEQUENCES": The NFL through a spokesperson declined comment, but the league's lawyers noted in their brief, that some of the opposing briefs in the case "warn of ... dire consequences for labor relations in professional sports if a league and its member clubs were deemed a single entity." In a footnote, the NFL said, "That argument neglects the labor market for NFL players is organized around a collective bargaining relationship that is provided for and prompted by federal labor law, and that the NFL clubs, as a multi-employer bargaining unit, can act jointly in setting terms and conditions of players employment ... without risking anti-trust liability." Kessler noted that the difference the league is trying to draw between players and coaches is that players have collective bargaining and coaches do not. “But that is only true for the moment,” Kessler said, alluding to the potential of the NFLPA de-certifying. “They say the exemption can be applied in labor markets because there is collective bargaining and that makes no sense because if there is no union in the future, there would be no collective bargaining.”