*Legal action has been taken against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones over his threat to bench players if they “disrespect the flag and national anthem” by not standing.
Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint against Jones on Tuesday, alleging the Cowboys owner and general manager violated the National Labor Relations Act with his decree.
According to the filing to the National Labor Relations Board, “the employer, evidenced by repeated public statements, is attempting to threaten, coerce and intimidate all Dallas Cowboys players on the roster in order to prevent them from exercising concerted activity protected under the act by saying that he will fire any players involved in such concerted activity.”
Jones has said players will not play, not that they would be fired if they don’t stand for the anthem, but Wade Rathke, Local 100s chief organizer, said that is a “distinction without difference when it comes to the law.”
“You can’t discipline somebody for something that is a right they have under the law, whether that discipline be termination or benching or giving a slap on the wrist or writing up in their files they’ve been a bad boy,” Rathke said. “That’s just not what they can do when it comes to concerted activities. I know in the modern age people think workers shouldn’t have rights, but they still do. This union was offended by those comments. Mr. Jones just got carried away being a rich guy and there’s no laws he has to respect.”
According to Rathke, the NLRB will assign a field agent to investigate the claim and if there is a determination that there is a violation of the act it will go to trial if no settlement is reached.
“I’m hoping this doesn’t go to hell and back on the labor board,” Rathke said. “I think Mr. Jones should just say, ‘I stepped out of line.’ Fine. … We’re not looking for blood.”
According to the NFL’s game manual, players are not required to stand for the anthem; however, it is written that they “should” stand at attention.
When asked if he would really sit a player like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant, Jones initially deferred.
“The policy and my actions are going to be that if you’re not honoring, standing for the flag in a way that a lot of our fans feel that you should, if that’s not the case, then you won’t play,” Jones said, noting that his stance is “nothing new.” He added, “As far as whether or not I will basically institute or basically do what I said, I just would say that the implication that we’re not respecting the flag … is just not going to be accepted and so I would just ask anybody to look at my record relative to what I say I’m going to do and you go from there.”
As previously reported, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFL teams on Tuesday expressing a belief that “everyone should stand for the national anthem” and that the dispute surrounding the issue is “threatening to erode the unifying power of our game.” He spoke of a plan that will be reviewed with the teams at next week’s league meeting, which would “include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.”