The NFL Players Association offered to meet with the NFL last week in an effort to work out a litigation settlement in the Brady et al v. the National Football League et al case, potentially creating the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement, league and NFLPA sources said Monday.
But the unsettled ground this situation rests on again shook up any chance of that happening.
According to sources with the NFLPA, the trade association representing NFL players, the league declined to meet with the NFLPA's lawyers in advance of Wednesday, when the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit in Minnesota will hear arguments in the players' request for an injunction lifting the lockout.
"We are not interested in discussing a litigation settlement," league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday. "We are prepared to continue negotiations immediately over the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement and communicated that to the NFLPA two weeks ago."
At issue with these meetings is the pending unfair labor practices charge that the NFL filed with the National Labor Relations Board. The NFL charges that the NFLPA's decertification is a "sham" and that the former union wasn't bargaining in good faith at the time of the filing in February.
The case makes it tricky for any negotiations toward a settlement to take place.
A trade association source claims the NFL "said it would only engage in collective bargaining negotiations with the NFLPA. Since the NFLPA is no longer a union, this is not legally possible, and the league knows this."
On the flip side, the NFL's stance in the NLRB case could hinge on the handling of negotiations with the NFLPA.
"We don't accept that their status is anything but a labor organization," Aiello wrote in an email. "That is our unfair labor practice charge before the NLRB."