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THE SIDELINES : Larry Csonka Tries to Organize a New Union for NFL Players

From Times Wire Services

Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka is trying to organize a new union for NFL players and part of his platform is a promise of a collective bargaining agreement within 90 days.

NFL players have been without a contract since a five-year agreement expired in 1987. The NFL Players Assn., involved in a number of lawsuits against management, decertified as a union last November.

“I believe the climate is right for the players to get a contract now,” said Csonka, who has mailed authorization cards to the players.

Csonka sent a three-page letter to the players, emphasizing mistakes he believes the Players Assn. has made. “With decertification, the NFLPA is totally powerless to negotiate a new contract,” the letter said. “Therefore, you have no say in your wages or working conditions.”

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The letter urges the players to sign union authorization cards that are included in the packets Csonka sent out. He promises a contract within 90 days.

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, predicted that the effort would fail as at least two other organizing efforts have since 1987.

“The players aren’t that stupid,” Upshaw said. “They understand what’s going on. The players realize that salaries are going up, that they took in 60% of the gross revenues last year. The lawsuit we filed forced the Plan B (free agency) move and the players now realize what free agency can mean.”


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