Union player representatives from the National Football League's 28 teams voted, 19-9, over the weekend to recommend ratification of the collective bargaining agreement reached Nov. 16 with the National Football League, Ed Garvey, the NFL Players Association executive director, announced yesterday.
The union declined to say how each representative voted but will make that information available to the players today.
Mark Murphy, the Washington Redskins' player representative, said he was one of the nine who voted to recommend rejection.
"I thought five years was too long," said Murphy, who is also a member of the union's executive committee and participated in the negotiations. "For the time we were out, I just didn't think we gained enough. I just couldn't recommend it."
But Murphy also said he believes a majority of the union's general membership will vote to ratify the agreement.
Approximately 1,500 union members will vote Wednesday on whether to ratify the pact, which ended the union's 57-day strike against the NFL, the longest players' strike in American professional sports.
At a news briefing yesterday, Garvey said the contract being voted on Wednesday is substantially improved over the tentative agreement of Nov. 16.
"We now have a contract that is likely to be ratified by the members."
Among the improvements in the contract achieved since Nov. 16, Garvey said, are protection for the players should the league extend the regular season beyond 16 games, a May instead of a February date for the 1983 college draft, increases in compensation for career-ending injuries, and access by the union to individual player contracts and network radio and television contracts.
The contract now states that, should the length of the regular season be extended during the five-year contract, the NFL must negotiate with the union on that issue. If the two sides are unable to agree on additional compensation for players, the matter would go to binding arbitration.
The union had resisted the league's attempts to move the college draft from May to February on the grounds that such a move would hurt the new United States Football League, which will begin play this March. The NFLPA views the USFL as a source of alternate employment for its members. After 1983, however, the league has the right to move the draft from May to February.
Without those changes, Garvey said, the union's general membership probably would have voted against ratification of the contract, which the league says allocates $1.6 billion to total player costs over the five years.
He said lawyers for the union and the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, are still working on a settlement agreement of an unfair labor practice complaint pending against the NFL and a union lawsuit contending the NFL's standard player contract is illegal.
In the voting Wednesday, players will be asked to sign their ballots and turn them in to the union player representative on their team. They will have the options of voting to accept, reject or abstain.
The player representatives will count the votes and telephone the results to union headquarters in Washington. Garvey said the union will announce the results Wednesday night if there is no doubt about the outcome. If the vote is close, he said, there will be no announcement until all the ballots are collected and counted in Washington, probably on Saturday.