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NFL files unfair labor practice charge against players’ union

Former WSU Cougar Bob Bratkowski, right, was let go by the Bengals and joins the Falcons as QBs coach. (Associated Press)
Former WSU Cougar Bob Bratkowski, right, was let go by the Bengals and joins the Falcons as QBs coach. (Associated Press)

The NFL filed an unfair labor practice charge against its players’ union with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday.

The league’s filing says the union “consistently has failed to confer in good faith” during negotiations for a new contract and the union’s “conduct amounts to surface bargaining and an anticipatory refusal to bargain.”

A statement e-mailed to the Associated Press by union spokesman George Atallah says the NFL’s “claim has absolutely no merit.”

The NLRB is a federal agency that enforces the nation’s labor laws and referees labor-management disputes.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day March 3. The NFL Players Association has said it expects the owners to lock out players; the NFL’s filing with the NLRB says that the union wants to “run out the clock” and, essentially, avoid reaching a new CBA so it can decertify and file an antitrust lawsuit.

Players already have voted, team-by-team, to authorize decertifying their union if a new CBA isn’t reached by the deadline.

Under the heading “Basis of the Charge,” the NFL says in Monday’s filing with the NLRB that during current negotiations, the union delayed the scheduling of bargaining sessions; failed to “respond in a timely and/or meaningful manner” to owners’ contract proposals; and insisted on “disclosure of financial data to which the NFLPA has no legal right and then suspending negotiations unless and until such data is produced.”

The league’s filing also accuses the NFLPA of “engaging in other actions demonstrating that the union has approached these negotiations with no intent to reach agreement through good faith collective bargaining.”

The biggest issue separating the sides is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues; under the old deal, the owners receive $1 billion off the top, and they want to increase that to $2 billion before players get their share.

Among the other significant points in negotiations: the owners’ push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; a rookie wage scale; and benefits for retired players.

Bratkowski called on by Atlanta Falcons

Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who also spent seven seasons as a Seattle Seahawks assistant coach, has been hired to coach the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterbacks.

The Falcons picked the former Washington State receiver to replace Bill Musgrave, who has become offensive coordinator for Minnesota.

Ravens extend coach Harbaugh’s contract

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh signed a three-year extension that will keep him under contract through 2014. Harbaugh took the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons after replacing Brian Billick in January 2008. Baltimore is 32-16 in the regular season under Harbaugh and 4-3 in the playoffs.

Quick kicks

The Oakland Raiders hired Hall-of-Famer Rod Woodson as an assistant to coach the team’s cornerbacks. The Raiders still have not filled a vacant defensive coordinator position. Chuck Bresnahan, who was defensive coordinator when Woodson played in Oakland, is on staff as a defensive assistant and is a likely candidate. … Ray Rhodes has joined the Cleveland Browns staff as a defensive assistant. Rhodes has spent the past three seasons with the Houston Texans. Before that, he worked in Seattle with Browns’ president Mike Holmgren. Rhodes brings more than 30 years of pro coaching experience to Cleveland. He was also a head coach in Philadelphia and Green Bay. Also, the team said former Idaho Vandals and Washington Huskies coach Keith Gilbertson will be a senior offensive assistant after serving as the Browns director of pro personnel last year.

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