Earlier today, the NFLRA (NFL Referees Association) filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. There’s only one problem. They have no [real] leverage.
The NFLRA is trying to maneuver themselves into a better negotiating position with the charge, but at the end of the day, nothing trumps natural leverage. Don’t believe me? Just ask the NFLPA.
The ongoing labor dispute between the NFL and NFLRA won’t ultimately effect the game once the season starts. As it currently stands, the dispute is an afterthought at best.
The key difference between the NFLPA and the NFLRA is that the NFLPA does have some leverage. Very few fans would actually pony up for season tickets to watch replacement players. Fans want to see the best football players in the world, and that’s what they get. Fans don’t, however, care what set of zebras is patrolling the field. It really is that simple.
Sure, the NFL may be guilty of unfair labor practices. The NFLPA played the same game the NFLRA is currently playing, but the claim won’t win the NFL referees a blockbuster deal. The NFL has made it clear that they will hire replacement officials, and if the game suffers, the difference will be marginal at best.
Personally, I like most of the officials in the NFL. I think they do a good job calling such a quick paced game, but I also believe that others could also do a good job in that regard. Labor negotiations are all about leverage, and the NFLRA just doesn’t have any.