NFL labor negotiations continue; suggestions and lessons for owners to follow
Friday, March 4, 2011; 5:43 PM
The start of a potential NFL lockout continues to be averted as owners and players extend deadline to negotiate a new labor deal. First a deadline to conclude collective bargaining talks by Thursday was extended another 24 hours. Then on Friday, the two sides agreed to another extension:
Negotiators for the NFL and its players' union approved a second postponement of their bargaining deadline for a new labor deal Friday, agreeing to talk for seven more days.
The extension increases hopes for an eventual settlement after some progress was made in negotiations Thursday.
Talks were expected to resume Monday. Sources said the postponement became official when it was ratified by the union's ruling executive committee. Union officials previously agreed to the one-week extension of the talks. The NFL agreed to the latest delay at the request of a federal mediator overseeing the talks.
Tom Boswell thinks that the NFL can learn a few lessons from MLB's experiences with labor disputes:
As NFL owners and their players find themselves at the first of what may be many brinks in their negotiations, they should learn from baseball's horrid battle of 1994-95. That dispute cascaded into failure, in part because both sides thought they'd win before anything awful happened.
In baseball, as in the current NFL ruckus, the owners spent years laying the groundwork to roll back gains made by the players. In both cases, the players felt sure that labor law was on their side. The owners felt they were getting squeezed and had the financial muscle to change that balance. Both sports were enjoying boom times. That cushion of overconfidence, plus so much money to be split up, proved a perfect prescription for a brawl.
Baseball set deadlines, extended them, then let them pass. Both sides postured, pretended to be negotiating seriously while actually playing for advantage with the public and in the media. There were many baseball days back then that felt a lot like Thursday's NFL talks. Marathon meetings, new last-minute proposals: There's progress! Don't fret.
Sally Jenkins skewers NFL owners with a satirical column written in the first person:
The wonderful part of being The Owner is that I own things. I own so many things that it's given me the impression I own, well, everything. The biggest thing I own, of course, is my NFL team, which I particularly enjoy because it gives me the sensation that I own people. At the moment the NFL players association is trying to tell me I don't really own all the little men down on the field, that I only rent them for a price. But they will soon discover that they are merely "fungible assets" and "labor costs."
As I like to say to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees when they question my vast sense of ownership, "Son, do you need help reading a revenue chart?"
As The Owner, I rely on the gargantuan stream of NFL revenue, $9 billion a year, to help me own all of my other things. I personally made an average of $33 million in 2009 according to Forbes, but that is not quite enough to comfortably pay for all that I own - the boats, and planes, and mansions in Palm Beach and Aspen, and my vineyard, and so I am asking for more.
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