When is a union not a union? In the case of the NFLPA, their decision to decertify ended that organization's life as an official union and allowed them to pursue a class action antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and team owners.
The league filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board following the collapse of the mediation process earlier this month, calling the move a "sham" and that decertification was a premeditated move designed to throw the fight over to the courts. It's a move that concerns the league because antitrust law precedent has not been favorable to their cause.
As you would expect, the league continues to refer to players as a union, arguing that their Along those lines the league has continued to refer to the players as a union. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's most famous use of the label came in a letter to players this week in which he urged them to urge their union to come back to the bargaining table.
One question on the minds of fans now is whether or not the two sides will go back to the bargaining table and just how exactly that works since the NFLPA, technically, no longer exists.
Starting with the second question, since it has a fairly simple answer which DeMaurice Smith explained on a call with SBNation this morning. "Negotiations can still continue, they continue where because every player is represented now as a class, and class council, of which I'm one of them, class council can continue to negotiate with the league as representatives of the class any time," explained Smith.
Asked whether or not negotiating on behalf of the players represented as a class in the lawsuit was off the table, Smith said, "Absolutely not.
"As class council we can sit down and negotiate with the league at any time, and I think instead of Roger sending a letter to players referring to us as a union, my guess is he's got a couple of lawyers who are smart enough to read the complaint, and call the lawyers who are on the complaint, and ask to sit down and negotiate. My guess is Jeff [Pash] can probably figure that out."
Now, that answer doesn't exactly hold out much hope that the two sides will renew talks in the near future. Listening to both sides talk, the gulf between them is pretty wide, wide enough to seem unbridgeable without the help of a federal judge.
Of course, that could all change as the no-cap climate eventually proves untenable to all involved.