History of the Company and the Union
The National Football League has a very long history. It all began when representatives of more than 20 NFL clubs met at a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922 to address a full agenda. During this meeting the owner’s officially changed the league’s name from the American Professional Football Association to the National Football League. In 1956, long before the league became the massively profitable economic force it is today, the players organized themselves into a union, the NFL Players Association. “The union was formed due to the poor conditions involving health care and threats to an individual’s livelihood if injury occurred.” (ehow, 2010) In the years thereafter, a number of events, such as strikes and litigation, have established the fundamental benefits that players enjoy to this day. The most memorable and perhaps most significant event of the NFL Players Association history was the strike of 1987. The strike was for the players “to win the right to free agency and to guarantee themselves a larger slice of the pie.” (Shmoop, 2010)
Nevertheless, the NFL owners wanted to maintain the league’s profitability by making sure the player salaries did not grow faster than revenue. One of the most important strategies for controlling salaries was by limiting free agency – the ability of a player to sell his services to the highest bidder on the open market once he reached the end of his contract. The owner’s were determined not to be bullied by the player’s union and resolved that games would go on as scheduled with or without the players. The replacement NFL players definitely left something to be desired by the fans and most stayed away. “Stadium attendance fell to about one-fourth of normal and TV ratings plummeted.” (Shmoop, 2010)
Meanwhile, the union had no strike fund to provide financial support to its players. By the strike’s fourth week, the internal tensions resulting from the strike caused a breakdown within the union. The 1987 strike ended in total defeat for the NFL Players Association. The players went back to work without winning free agency, without winning a guaranteed share of league revenue, and without even reaching agreement on a collective bargaining agreement. In the years after the 1987 strike, the players found more success through litigation than they had through labor action. Between 1988 and 1992, lawyers representing the NFL and its players got involved in many lawsuits, with the players usually but not always ending in victories. Obviously during this time the NFL Players Association was nearly decimated, but there was a CBA agreement in place and basically the owners held all the cards. As the many lawsuits continued during this time the players started to gain ground and series of court decisions started to favor the players and edged the league towards free agency. This was a big win for the players, not long after that the union actually re-certified...