Jones Threats are Failing to Stampede Cowboys

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

New Orleans   The fallout on the NLRB charge filed by Local 100 United Labor Unions over the threats he has made to attempt to chill workplace protests, continues to attract attention nationally and, increasingly, support.

The charge forced owner Jerry Jones to meet with the players yesterday, and by all reports there was no happiness in Mudsville. Players avoided the media and for the most part would not discuss the meeting with Jones. As Dallas Fox4 reported, “Things seemed tense when they were asked about the meeting with Jones.” Stars, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and Ezekiel Elliot, seem to have deliberately made themselves scare.

Dallas Cowboys player representative tried to strike a middle ground, indicating there are undoubtedly tense conversations being held to try to pull Jones off his illegal limb and back to some ground that he might be able to share with the players, most of whom are not used to being bullied for any reason, on or off the field. Quoted by Fox,

Kicker Dan Bailey is the team’s union player representative. He spoke cautiously about the issue and tried to navigate through it. “I don’t think you can ever bring a group of people together and collectively agree. I think there’s always going to be people that have different opinions, different beliefs,” he said. “I think the main focus is to just establish a baseline where you can come together and agree on something in principle. It doesn’t mean that your individual views are right or wrong. Like I said, when you come in this door, we’re working towards something as a team. I think that’s the main focus.”

More interestingly, as Fox4 called around they found solid support for Local 100’s charge from employment lawyers on the rule issue, and reportedly from other lawyers arguing the players might have constitutional grounds for a First Amendment suit as well. Here’s what the attorney offered,

Employment and labor lawyer Amy Davis, who is not involved in the complaint, says the labor union may have a case, citing the NFL’s current game manual. “What the manual says is they should stand not that a requirement,” Davis said. “And what Jerry Jones is doing is saying, ‘No, it is a requirement.’” Some legal experts also believe the NFL could face a first amendment lawsuit for punishing players who take a knee if the stadium they play in was funded with taxpayer money, which AT&T Stadium was.

Stay tuned, this is not an issue that is going away.

But, let’s be frank, that’s the high side of real news and measured response.

Turns out Facebook is also a way for haters to rage. A couple of messages came in full of Obama rage and the “n” word. Whoever says the issue of these protests is not racial is not paying attention for sure. As disturbing were the number of people who wrote that this was Jones’ team and his field and these were his players, and they had to do whatever he says. Whoa, Nellie, not in this country. Al Sharpton was quoted in a USA Today report including the charge that Jones seemed to think he was still “running the plantation.” A couple of union members, one from the IBEW, weren’t happy, because they felt the anthem trumped the more fundamental rights of the players. Brothers, there’s a law, won partially by your unions, so let’s follow it.

It wasn’t all bad. One woman asked how she could make a donation to Local 100 for standing up on this issue. That’s unique. I need to get back to her.


Owners Crumple Like Cheap Suits to Trump, Attacking NFL Players

NFL Players Strike 1987

New Orleans  After days of reading, hearing, and watching Jerry Jones, the big whoop and owner of the Dallas Cowboys, threaten his players with benching and job jeopardy, Local 100 United Labor Unions filed charges with Region 16 of the National Labor Relations Board in Fort Worth, Texas charging Jones and the NFL Cowboys with violations of the National Labor Relations Act which protects the concerted or collective actions of all private sector workers taking action with or without a union, under or outside of a collective bargaining agreement, in seeking to protect their working conditions, wages, and hours. Our charge was simple. An employer is forbidden by the Act from threatening, coercing, and intimidating workers in their rights to act together, and that is precisely what Jones was doing with public impunity in all available media outlets.

Within hours we were talking to sports reporters for ESPN, various CBS affiliates, and of course the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. We were in the Sporting News. The story was bigger than Dallas and Texas. With only 10.7% of US workers now in unions, a lot of these conversations were 101-courses in basic American labor law that protects workers on the job, whether they exercise these rights or not. These are also pretty clearly the kind of basic lectures that NFL owners and their staff need to attend as well, before theses elderlies get a strain trying to thump their chests and reprise what they remember as schoolyard bullies from their youth.

Jones’ remarks are an effort to unilaterally change the working conditions of his players. The collective bargaining agreement also forbids rule changes once training camps end. The NFL rules indicate that players “should” stand, not that they “shall” stand. As their legion of lawyers can tell them, if they will listen, that’s permissive, not mandatory language. Furthermore, the NFL has absorbed these protests for over a year once begun by Colin Kapernick with the 49ers. No one has been disciplined, though Kapernick seems to be blackballed. The Commissioner has publicly indicated that he understands the protest against police brutality and racial injustice. Numerous owners and almost all coaches have supported their players. Why are the owners now attacking the players, and buckling to President Trump’s tweets?

Don’t for a minute believe that this isn’t racial on Trump’s part and another dog whistle to his hater-base. 70% of the NFL rosters are African-American. There’s a reason he’s hosting almost all-white hockey teams at the White House, while NBA and NFL professionals with a growing racial sensitivity are standing up to Trump.

Don’t for a minute believe this is about the symbols like the national anthem and the flag. The right to associate, speak, and protest injustice are fundamental cornerstones of our Constitution and the core of what it means to be American and fight for freedom. The anthem is just a song and the flag is a peace of cloth. These are significant symbols of our country, but there should be no confusion. They have no meaning if they are somehow elevated over our basic and fundamental freedoms. When the owners talk about substituting the players’ rights for contributions to some nonprofits, their lack of understanding and respect for our country is just embarrassing to contemplate since they seem to equate everything with a penny on the dollar.

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 translates these freedoms to the workplace. The players’ workplace is the football field. The owners need to respect the players, respect the law, and respect what America means, and back the heck off.