49ers Vote to Decertify from Players Union

By Joe Kukura
|  Friday, Nov 19, 2010  |  Updated 7:31 AM PDT
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49ers Vote to Decertify from Players Union

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SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 14: Frank Groe #21 of the San Francisco 49ers enters the field for their game against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on November 14, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Frank Gore

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If you have any patience for (or understanding of) the legal and labor moves being made for the coming NFL season, there is big news from 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara Thursday -- a lockout just got closer.

Matt Maiocco reports on Comcast Sportsnet reports that the 49ers players have unanimously voted to decertify from the NFL Players Union. More than half of all NFL teams have voted to decertify from the Players Union, most of them voting unanimously.

This story is about as exciting as watching a hand-recount 8 million of state Attorney General ballots, and it makes about 1,000 times less sense to a normal human being. But the end result of this story could be a lockout of players and no NFL football next season, so it behooves us to pay attention.

The NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out after this season, and the players and owners must agree on a new set of rules governing what percentages of earnings will be spent on salaries, stadiums, and the other costs of running the NFL. The players are basically looking for a raise, the owners are basically looking for more games and less-generous benefits for the players.

Should they not be able to see eye to eye by March 11, the owners will implement a "lockout", meaning they will lock the players out of team facilities and there is no NFL football until further notice. This would be similar to the NFL strike of 1982.

In this event, federal law prevents a union for suing its employer during a CBA negotiating process. The locked-out players will want to sue the league for lost wages and broken contractual promises, and their lawyers think they have a case.

The players can only sue the NFL during this process if they are technically not a union. Solution? Continue to operate as a union, but claim you have decertified and are no longer a union. You basically just lose the name.

Want proof that the players will continue to operate as a union? The vote was orchestrated personally by NFL Players Union executive director DeMaurice Smith, who was in Santa Clara at 49ers headquarters. If a union director encourages a whole union to drop out of the very union he runs, that guy has probably got something up his sleeve.

DeMaurice Smith makes the trip to Alamada to meet with the Raiders later Thursday.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks it's just a matter of time until the NFL Players Union retains Gloria Allred and claims Tiger Woods made advances on them.

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