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Volume 24 No. 116
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Labor Union Files Charges Alleging Jerry Jones Violates Act By Threatening To Bench Kneelers

A labor union that represents workers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has "filed a charge alleging" that Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has "violated the National Labor Relations Act with his threats to discipline players if they protest during the national anthem," according to Hill & Davison of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Local 100 of the United Labor Unions "filed the complaint" yesterday with the Ft. Worth office of the National Labor Relations Board. The National Labor Relations Act "prohibits employers from intimidating or threatening workers for their 'concerted activity.'" Local 100 Chief Organizer Wade Rathke said that the NFL has already "established that there is no condition of work that requires players to stand during the anthem." He added that players have the "right to protest and act concertedly at their workplace -- the playing field" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/11). Rathke said, "You can't discipline somebody for something that is a right they have under the law, whether that discipline be termination or benching or giving a slap on the wrist or writing up in their files they've been a bad boy. That's just not what they can do when it comes to concerted activities." He added, "I'm hoping this doesn't go to hell and back on the labor board. I think Mr. Jones should just say, 'I stepped out of line.' Fine. ... We're not looking for blood" (ESPN.com, 10/10).

A REAL TEXAS TUSSLE: In Dallas, Kate Hairopoulos reports Jones yesterday "strongly reiterated his stance that Cowboys players will be benched if they 'disrespect the flag' during the national anthem" during his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM. Jones said that it is "not in the best interest of the Cowboys to be in this debate." Jones: "This is a workplace issue. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding as to where I want the personnel of the Cowboys to be when we're at the No. 1 workplace we have, which is the field and the sideline on gameday." Jones "declined to get into 'conjecture' what he would do if star players" such as QB Dak Prescott or RB Ezekiel Elliott "decided to protest." He did indicate that he would "follow through on his statements." Hairopoulos notes Jones continues to "point to the NFL's game operating manual, which includes language about how teams and players should behave during the national anthem." But the policy is "not considered a hard-and-fast rule and the NFL has not disciplined the many players who have protested during the anthem for the last year." Jones believes that the manual makes it "clear the intent of the policy is that players should stand for the anthem" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11). Jones said, "The No. 1 thing I have to do is run the Dallas Cowboys. I can’t get caught up in [President] Trump stuff and all the other issues -- no matter what side you’re on. The least pain for the Dallas Cowboys is the perception that we’re honoring the flag." Jones said that the issue, which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday addressed in a memo to club executives, "will be 'front and center' when owners gather in New York next week for league meetings." NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart said the NFL, its teams and players "are frustrated when we’ve become part of a debate that really isn’t about football." Jones: "This just isn’t good for the Dallas Cowboys. This isn’t good for America’s Team" (USA TODAY, 10/11).

NO DEAL? In Dallas, Matt Mosley notes Jones "believed he made a deal with his roster when he took a knee before the anthem" prior to his team's kickoff against the Cardinals in Week 3. Mosley: "I'm pretty sure his players weren't aware they'd entered a pact with Jones." What Jones yesterday admitted was that Trump "absolutely forced his hand." Jones: "I'm a friend of the President, we don't agree on many, many matters. I'm really in practice, apolitical. But I really can't afford to be when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys and my No. 1 job. We're addressing the issue in part because (Trump) been very active in the issue. In part, that stirred it up. And because it is stirred up is one of the reasons I've drawn a bright line." Mosley writes Jones has "decided that much of his fan base has had enough of all the anthem protests in the NFL and would like to focus on football." He also believes "taking this hardline stance will provide cover for players and fans alike" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11). Also in Dallas, Brandon George writes, "Jones didn't build a reputation as the most powerful NFL owner by backing down" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11). But the MORNING NEWS' Moore writes it is "naïve to believe Jones or the Cowboys will emerge unscathed." Jones clearly has a "feel for the majority of his consumer base" and he knows where his clients and biggest advertising partners "stand on this issue." Moore: "Does he truly understand the depth of the emotion on the other side? Does he care?" Jones has put himself and the Cowboys at the "epicenter of an ugly partisan divide." Moore: "How can anyone believe he and the Cowboys won't suffer injuries?" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11). 

LOCKER ROOM DIVISION? In Dallas, David Moore notes there have been no "signs of stress or division" among players regarding their stance on Jones' comments, but that "doesn't mean it won't develop over time." Moore: "It's too early to tell. Check back in a few weeks" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/11). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes Jones "can’t win on this, and he’s taking the whole team down." The Cowboys are five games into a season of "great promise that is on the precipice of coming apart" because discussions surround the national anthem. Jones has a "long history of fighting for his players, but siding with President Trump on this issue is not one of them." It has "created stress in a locker room that does not need it" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/11).