Union Dumps Labor Charge Against Cowboys, NFL

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By Jacquie Lee

Local 100 of United Labor Unions officially withdrew its charge against the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League Oct. 27, Wade Rathke told Bloomberg Law.

“I think we had the impact we wanted to have because, to our knowledge, we haven’t been able to confirm any direct or public threat to the workers’ concerted activity,” said Rathke, the local’s chief organizer. “The NFL did the right thing by saying they were not going to punish any players.”

Rathke filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Dallas Cowboys Oct. 10 after team owner Jerry Jones said he would bench players who “disrespect” the flag in pre-game protests. The charge magnified a nationwide debate over an athlete’s right to protest on the field and whether that constitutes protected activity under federal labor law.

No Kneeling Ban

NFL team owners met Oct. 18 but did not set a policy to punish players who kneel during the national anthem. This move came despite a public outcry calling for the league to make standing mandatory.

Rathke filed the charge with Region 16 of the National Labor Relations Board. That office confirmed it received the request to withdraw the charge Oct. 27, Timothy Watson, the head of the Region 16 office, said.

Local 100 alleged in the charge that Jones was violating the National Labor Relations Act. No members of the union work for the team, but “any person may file a charge alleging that any person has engaged in or is engaging in any unfair labor practice,” under NLRB regulations.

“We will file a charge again if he crosses the line,” Rathke said. “We’re satisfied it’s had some impact and we’re hoping that impact is permanent.”

Lawyers representing the Dallas Cowboys for this charge, Joshua Ditelberg and William Dritsas with Seyfarth Shaw LLP, did not immediately reply to requests for comment Oct. 27.

Local 100 represents service workers across Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. Its members include janitors, bus drivers, and hospitality workers.

National Football League Players Association represents the athletes. It was not involved in Rathke’s actions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacquie Lee in Washington at jlee1@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com

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