March 27, 2020
New York Times
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — With just days to go before N.F.L. players vote on a 10-year labor agreement, one of the most influential members of its union’s executive committee has accused the staff of the N.F.L. Players Association of negotiating the proposed deal in bad faith.
Russell Okung, who has been vocal opponent of the proposed 10-year labor deal now before roughly 2,000 N.F.L. players, on Monday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the independent federal agency tasked with guarding employee rights.
The three-page filing accuses the N.F.L.P.A. staff, including its executive director, DeMaurice Smith, of forcing a vote on the deal over the objections of its executive committee, in violation of the union’s constitution. Okung also accused the union’s leadership of trying to muzzle him from speaking out about the lack of transparency with the executive committee about the negotiations with N.F.L. owners, which began last year.
The owners said in February that if the players do not approve the proposed deal by the end of the league’s calendar year on March 18, then the coming season will be governed by the existing collective bargaining agreement until it expires next year.
Sheilla Dingus founded Advocacy for Fairness in Sports in October 2016, after a stint with Defenders of the Wall, a New England Patriots based blog where she dived deep into the legal aspects of Deflategate. Along the way, she observed many inequities in sports and felt a need to address some of the under-reported stories in sports law. She draws from her background as a former professional dancer, who like many of the athletes she writes about, took an early retirement due to orthopedic injuries. After a return trip to college she worked for a legal software company, with seven years as a Project Manager and Analyst. She brings her analytical skills to the table in breaking down complex lawsuits, and enjoys pursuing her longtime interest in journalism.