Ed Garvey said yesterday that if the National Football League does not rescind its decision to fine players for pregame handshakes of union solidarity, the players' union may call selected strikes at this weekend's exhibition games.
Garvey, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, went to the National Labor Relations Board yesterday to press for an injunction against fines levied last weekend. The Seattle Seahawks fined their players half a game's salary -- perhaps $9,000 in the case of quarterback Jim Zorn -- and all other teams fined handshaking players $100.
"If we don't get it (the injunction)," Garvey said, "we'll strike some games. Not all of them, but selected ones."
The overwhelming majority of players in 12 of the 13 games last weekend shook hands just before kickoffs to demonstrate their support of the union's demand for a percentage of the NFL's gross revenue.
"I don't think there's a labor lawyer in the country who thinks that what the NFL is doing is lawful," said Garvey, who also said Seattle has withheld weekly paychecks from its players.
"We're saying to the NLRB that we need an injunction to stop this intimidation," Garvey said.
Garvey said he expected an injunction to be issued Wednesday.
He also declined to elaborate on what games would be the target if an injunction is not issued. There are 14 games scheduled this weekend, including an exhibition between the Redskins and Tampa Bay in Tampa Saturday night. Los Angeles plays at Cleveland Thursday night. There are two games Friday, 10 games Saturday and one on Sunday.
William Lubbers, general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, said last night the union had filed an unfair labor practice on the fines in New York on Friday and that his office was still investigating the matter before determining whether to seek an injunction against the NFL to stop the practice.
"At this point it is much too early to tell if the evidence will support them," Lubbers said. "We have still not talked to the Management Council people. They will be in tomorrow (Wednesday). That will give us a better idea."
Lubbers said he could not predict how long it would take for the NLRB to rule on the NFLPA's request for an injunction, which would have to be issued by a federal circuit court of appeals, probably in either New York or Washington.
"I won't rule out the possibility that it could happen by the end of the week," he said. "No, I don't think the threat to call a strike puts pressure on us. That's a normal thing. But the players do seem to be fairly outraged by this."
Garvey also said yesterday he had been informed that the Cleveland Browns also will be fining players $100 per man although Coach Sam Rutigliano had said there would be no fines. Garvey said the Management Council had ordered the fines.
Meanwhile, sources said the Turner Broadcasting Company will announce today plans to televise games staged by the NFLPA should it be locked out by NFL management.
The NFLPA would put together six regional teams to play two games per weekend with a full schedule leading to a championship game.
Turner Broadcasting, the sources said, would pay the NFLPA $500,000 per game, with the money divided among the union membership, approximately 1,500 players. That comes out to about $667 per man.
The NFL Management Council says the player contracts prohibit them from playing football for anyone but their NFL club in the event of a strike. It would attempt to enforce this provision in court if the players try to play, a spokesman said.
In Carlisle, Pa., Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs used Monday night's team meeting to inform his players they would be fined $100 for their union handshake Saturday night with the Miami Dolphins.
Said Gibbs, "My statement was that the fine was a league directive and that I had nothing to with it." Mark Murphy, the Redskins player representative, said, "Coach Gibbs said it was a directive from the league and that Mr. (owner Jack Kent) Cooke and (General Manager) Bobby Beathard have decided to fine you. He said 'I'm not fining you.' "
Murphy added, "I've told the players that we will get the money back."