Union Files Grievance Against Jerry Jones

A union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for threatening not to let his players on the field if they protest racial injustice during the national anthem. But it isn’t the NFL Players Union, it’s a local union.

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A local labor union that represents workers in Texas filed a charge on Tuesday against Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, alleging he violated the National Labor Relations Act when he vowed to discipline players who choose to protest during the national anthem.

Chief organizer of Local 100 Wade Rathke asked the National Labor Relations Board to “investigate preemptively in order to prevent illegal firings of players,” arguing Jones’ directive violates a clause that prohibits employers from taking action against workers engaging in “concerted activity.”

“Jones through his efforts to bully his playing workforce is attempting to unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent condition of work,” Rathke told the Star-Telegram in a statement announcing the charge.

“The point is he is threatening anybody and everybody,” he continued. “We are trying to send Mr. Jones a message that there is a law here. The law here is that you have the ability to act with your co-worker. You can’t just roll over someone’s rights when they are a worker. You can’t bully workers on the job. President (Donald) Trump might not get that. Jones might be confused. But these are workers with rights with the National Labor Relations Board.”

It’s not clear that Jones’ actions, as terrible as they are, violate the National Labor Relations Act. I don’t know enough about that law to answer that question. I also don’t know whether a union that the players are not members of have standing to bring such a complaint. For all I know, this may be just a publicity stunt by the union that they know won’t do any good. But I do know that Jones’ actions may well be actionable under the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA.

There are reports that Jones told his players during a closed-door meeting that he made the statement he made so he could “wear the black hat” and look like the bad guy to take pressure off the players. And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. He’s trying to make himself look like the good guy, not the bad guy, taking a stand for patriotism and the military. And if he actually does follow through on his threats, it will be a huge mistake on his part. It will only add fuel to the fire. Either way, he’s still the bad guy in my view.

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