The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is back as a union. For the first time since March 11th, the day that the NFLPA decertified in order to pursue litigation against the NFL, it has re-formed itself as a union.
The process was important to the NFLPA for a couple of reasons. First, they wanted to counter the NFL's assertion all along that the decertification was not legitimate, thus taking the time to have players fill out authorization cards at each team's facility rather than doing the recertification online or through email. Second, the NFLPA is protecting the possibility of decertification again -- for them and other sports unions -- by doing a serious and deliberate process of recertification.
Now the NFLPA can begin negotiation of final collective bargaining issues with the NFL, a process that is underway as we speak in Washington, D.C.
Stay tuned for information on final issues such as application of the Personal Conduct Policy during the lockout, drug testing and benefits. As to timing, the transition rules were set to have the 2011 League Year start no later than August 4th. However, if these final issues are resolved and the CBA is ratified, the League Year can start sooner, allowing free agents to start practicing and the real football world to truly begin.
The NFLPA trade association is dead; the NFLPA union is back.