After President Trump referred to any NFL player who kneels during the national anthem a “son of a b*tch,” hundreds of athletes responded by doing just that. The protests have continued since then, and they’ve caused some team owners to take drastic measures, including threatening to bench their players if they continue to kneel.
Earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones became the first team owner to go on record saying he would discipline players for protesting during the anthem. He said on Sunday:
‘If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period. We’re going to respect the flag and I’m going to create the perception of it.’
Jones has received a lot of criticism for this decision, and, now, he’s even facing a complaint from a local labor union.
According to the Star-Telegram, Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint with the Fort Worth office of the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday alleging that Jones has violated the National Labor Relations Act with his threats.
Wade Rathke, chief organizer of Local 100, has said that there is no condition of work for the NFL that requires players to stand during the anthem, meaning that Jones has no right to tell players that they must do so.
‘Jones, through his efforts to bully his playing workforce, is attempting to unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent condition of work.’
Rathke added during an interview with the Star-Telegram that the violation applies whether Jones is disciplining players by benching them or firing them.
‘Either way, it’s a threat and you can’t threaten someone’s job for concerted activity. The point is he is threatening anybody and everybody. We are trying to send Mr. Jones a message that there is a law here. The law here is that you have the ability to act with your co-worker. You can’t just roll over someone’s rights when they are a worker. You can’t bully workers on the job. President (Donald) Trump might not get that. Jones might be confused. But these are workers with rights with the National Labor Relations Board.’
The board in Fort Worth plans to assign a field agent to investigate the charge. The first step will be to contact the NFL players association and the team.
The charges against Jones come as team owners and league officials are looking into changing the language in the NFL game operations manual to say that players “must” stand for the anthem. The manual currently says that players “should” stand.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart told the Star-Telegram that, while he’s not sure what will happen with the manual, the general consensus among officials is that the players must be required to stand.
‘I think everyone at this point is frustrated by this situation. The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand.’
Lockhart also said that a discussion about the possible changes will likely take place during meetings in New York next week:
‘I think there will be a discussion about the entire issue, including the policy. … I’m not going to predict what might happen.’
Featured image via Tom Pennington/Getty Images.