As the National Football League strike was in its 54th day yesterday, union leader Ed Garvey renewed his demands for a resumption of bargaining, but management held firm to its position that there is no point in resuming talks until the union accepts its latest offer.
Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboy quarterback Danny White arrived in New York, reportedly prepared to tell the union, on behalf of a delegation of well-known and high-paid players, that a majority of NFL players wants to accept the offer and resume football.
"We want to make sure that the NFL players' true feelings are being represented. We don't believe the majority has been represented through the strike," White told the Dallas Times Herald.
Doug Allen, an executive assistant to Garvey, the NFLPA executive director, heatedly denied White's contention that a majority of players wants to accept management's offer. He said any union member is welcome to meet with the NFLPA executive committee at the union's strike headquarters at the Summit Hotel in midtown Manhattan but denied there was any groundswell of sentiment in favor of accepting the management package.
As the players caucused in New York, Garvey met in his Washington office with Kay McMurray, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, in an effort to get the talks moving once again. Mediator Sam Kagel recessed the negotiations for the second time Nov. 6 in New York after eight days of futile attempts to mediate a settlement.
Earlier the sides had spent 12 equally unproductive days under Kagel's auspices in Cockeysville, Md. "It's obviously up to management to come to the bargaining table," said Garvey. "We have indicated to the mediator some areas in which we would be prepared to move."
Garvey said if the talks are resumed, it's likely that Kagel will continue to be involved. McMurray, he noted, was the person who appointed Kagel. "I was just touching base with all the people," said McMurray, who also spoke by telephone with Kagel and Jack Donlan, executive director of the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm. "Nothing's developed yet. I don't know that anything will."
In New York, Donlan repeated his position that the offer management placed on the table Nov. 6 is its final proposal for all practical purposes.
He said he would agree to resume negotiations to discuss any language problems and ambiguities but that as far as money is concerned, management has already made its last offer.
For the 1983 and 1984 seasons the two sides are separated by more than $200 million in disagreement over salaries. For the current season, they are divided by a gulf of $31 million in bonus payments to be paid to players if and when play is resumed. The sides are also divided over whether players should receive the major share of the salaries from a negotiated wage scale or through individual negotiations. In New York, delegations of players from teams around the league continued to meet with the union's executive committee to discuss the strike. The union continued to claim overwhelming support.
But in Minneapolis yesterday, Minnesota Vikings Ahmad Rashad and Eddie Payton were quoted by the Associated Press as saying the Vikings' stand on the management offer had been misrepresented by the NFLPA.
"We decided to drop the wage scale and accept management's proposal, knowing some things had to be worked out," said Rashad.
"We, in effect voted to accept management's offer in principle. Then I read where our player rep says we are behind the wage scale. That's absolutely wrong."