Acting National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director Daniel Nelson has rejected the efforts of the International Brotherhood of Professional Running Backs (IBPRB) to sever and form a new union and bargaining unit for the National Football League’s (NFL) running backs separate and distinct from the current National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

The Unit Clarification Petition (UC petition), which was filed with the NLRB’s Region 13 in Chicago, was dismissed as the NLRB found no legal basis for the running back position to be carved out from the current, longstanding configuration of the NFLPA to include all NFL players regardless of position.

Nelson rejected efforts by Veronica Patton, who filed the petition on behalf of the IBPRB, seeking the ability to negotiate a separate contract for the league’s running backs, separate and distinct from the current collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players. In issuing his dismissal letter, Nelson rejected the need for any additional NLRB proceedings since there was no evidence of any substantial changes to the established relationship between the running back position and the NFLPA. He stated,

[R]unning backs are not a newly established classification nor has the classification undergone any recent, substantial changes in their duties and responsibilities.

Nelson determined that the NFL and the running backs have an established collective bargaining relationship as part of an established unit that includes all employees in the bargaining unit. He also determined that no facts were presented in relation to the running back position to form a basis to proceed with a unit clarification petition. As we discussed in our blog dated August 29, the IBPRB’s petition failed to satisfy the NLRB test of showing “recent, substantial changes in their operations, or that other compelling circumstances exist which would warrant disregarding the long-existing bargaining history” of the parties to establish a successful basis to proceed with a Unit Clarification filing. In Batesville Casket Company, Inc., 283 NLRB 795 (1987), the NLRB relied on the standard established in Rock-Tenn Co., 274 NLRB 772 (1985), and dismissed a UC petition because the employer-petitioners did not show any “recent, substantial changes in their operations, or that other compelling circumstances which would warrant disregarding the long-existing bargaining history” of the parties.

Despite the lack of support from any NFL players, Patton has challenged the NLRB’s conclusions and vowed to continue to move forward with her efforts. Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney if you have any questions.