Yesterday, the National Football League filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against the National Football League Players' Association. The NFL accuses the union of failing to bargain in good faith. The NFL's Allegations Click here for a copy of the actual ULP. The NFL accused the union of the following (among other things): delaying the scheduling of bargaining sessions; failing to respond in a timely manner to the NFL's contract proposals; indcuing the NFL to make proposals that were then "categorically rejected" by the union; and insisting upon disclosure of financial data to which the union has no legal right (and then refusing to negotiate until it gets that data). The current agreement expires March 3. According to the NFL, the players plan to "run out the clock" on the contract while they prepare to decertify the union and then file an antitrust lawsuit against the league's owners. Union Response The NFLPLA issued a written response to the NFL's allegations: "The players didn't walk out and the players can't lockout. Players want a fair, new and long-term deal. We have offered proposals and solutions on every issue the owners have raised. This claim has absolutely no merit." The fact that the charge was filed on Valentine's Day (by the NFL's outside lawyer Bob Batterman) didn't escape the notice of the union. "Hey Batterman: you could have just sent me flowers and chocolate," one union official tweeted on Twitter. What's Next? This is merely the first of what will undoubtedly be many legal maneuvers by the parties. Most experts expect the owners to lock out players if the two sides haven't reached a deal by the March 3 deadline. Decertification of the union could make the owners think twice, however. The players decertified the union in the 1990s, filed an antitrust suit and then forced owners to allow free agency as part of a settlement. My personal opinion is that this is all just a giant conspiracy to keep the Packers from winning a second straight Super Bowl. Stay tuned.

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