Aug 29, 2012
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith became a household name during the 2011 labor dispute between the owners and player’s union. Smith played an vital role in securing peace between the League and Union, and provided numerous quotes and soundbites throughout the lengthy dispute.
The former partner at Latham & Watkins and Patton Boggs PC provided new fodder for the labor dispute between the NFL and the Referees Union, calling the lockout “absurd” and did not rule out a possible strike from the players.
According to an interview with Jim Trotter of SI.com, Smith believes that the NFL has an obligation the the players to provide a safe workplace. “In America it is the employer’s obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible,” Smith told Jim Trotter of SI.com. “We believe that if the National Football League fails in that obligation we reserve the right to seek any relief that we believe is appropriate. The NFL has chosen to prevent the very officials that they have trained, championed and cultivated for decades to be on the field to protect players and — by their own admission — further our goal of enhanced safety. That is absurd on its face.”
Smith continued: “The only conclusion that I have about the use of replacement officials is that the league cares more about money than it does about the experience of the regular referees as a vehicle to increase player safety.”
While we don’t anticipate the players taking the step of striking to avoid playing in what they believe to be unsafe conditions, their involvement in the standoff between the referees union and the NFL could put pressure on both sides to reach an agreement.
Another course of action presented by Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com could be a more viable option for the players.
Florio writes: “The NFLPA can do other things, from making the case for the lockout to end to filing a grievance or other legal action aimed at forcing the league to allow the locked-out officials to return to work. It sounds like something tangible could be coming.”