Ed Garvey, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, said yesterday he expects to contact the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, within the next few days to resume contract negotiations.
"Our player representatives around the league keep hearing from their general managers that a new offer is coming," Garvey said. But Jim Miller, a spokesman for the Management Council, said the council is sticking to its position: it wants, as the next step in bargaining, a counterproposal to the offer it made July 13.
Garvey's move followed a unanimous vote Monday in Chicago by the union's player representatives to empower the NFLPA's nine-member executive committee to call a strike anytime. The union set no deadline for a strike, and Garvey said it will maintain flexibility on that issue for now.
Implications of those developments will be discussed at a regular meeting today in New York of the Management Council's executive committee. That committee will also discuss the possibility of calling a lockout if there is no agreement by the NFL's regular season opener on Sept. 12, Miller said.
Talks between the two sides broke off last Wednesday after a four-hour meeting in Washington with each side accusing the other of failing to engage in good-faith bargaining.
The union has demanded that management divert 55 percent of its gross income to a trust fund that would be used to pay player salaries according to a seniority-based scale with performance incentive bonuses.
Management has answered that it is willing to increase player salaries and fringe benefits, but it will never agree to a pay scale that is tied to a percentage of gross revenues.
Yesterday, the Management Council filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging, according to a council statement, that the union "has sought to dictate the composition of the management bargaining committee, has demonstrated a 'locked mind' in connection with its percentage of gross revenue proposal, has failed and refused to meet and bargain at reasonable times and places with management representatives, has failed and refused to present a bargaining proposal, and has failed and refused to bargain in good faith over the subject of urinalysis testing."
The union has a variety of unfair labor practice charges pending against the Management Council, including failure to bargain in good faith and failure to supply information essential to productive negotiations.
In a related development, players for the Cleveland Browns, angered by the stalled contract talks, considered striking part of last Saturday's game against the New Orleans Saints, according to player representative Doug Dieken.
"After they saw the offer the owners made, a large number of guys came up to me during the week and talked about not playing the second half of the New Orleans game," Dieken said, according to the Associated Press. "They were really insulted by the offer. They were totally upset."
Dieken said he met with the players and convinced them that a limited strike was not in the best interests of the union.
"I told the guys I think it's better to do things on a league-wide basis rather than hit-miss by individual teams," Dieken said.