KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Soon-to-be Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung has accused the NFLPA of negotiating the proposed CBA in bad faith taking the step of filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board Monday.
In the filing, Okung is accusing NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith of pushing the new CBA to a vote through to the entire group of players despite the objections and vote of the NFLPA executive committee.
Okung has been among the most vocal players expressing disdain about the new proposed CBA, a potential 17-game season and NFLPA-NFL negotiations not representing players’ best interest in terms of health and safety. This filing with the National Labor Relations Board, a federal government agency which enforces and protects employees against unfair labor practices, speaks to those issues.
Smith and the NFLPA declined comment on the matter. Okung declined to speak further about the topic at this time.
During a February vote, the executive committee voted 6-to-5 not to recommend the proposed CBA to players. After a meeting with owners during the NFL combine, the executive committee again remained in majority on its desire not to recommend the proposed deal.
The NFLPA then took a vote of all 32 team player reps in Indianapolis with the vote being 17-to-14 to approve the deal with one player abstaining. The NFLPA needs 2/3 vote to pass the deal along to the full player group with recommendation, but short of that number they decided to still move the vote to the full player group without recommendation since they received a simple majority vote to approve.
The vote on the new CBA was sent to players last Thursday and it will be open for voting via DocuSign until Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET after a two-day extension was announced Monday. There needs just a simple majority (50% plus one vote) to pass the new proposed CBA.
The New York Times first reported Okung’s filing.
Okung also put his name in the hat in the ring for NFLPA president Monday afternoon along with New York Giants safety Michael Thomas, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho, a source told ESPN.
Voting will take place midday Tuesday.
Okung, who has been a member of the NFLPA executive committee since 2018, is a clear “no” vote on the new CBA and actively has been attempting to halt this new deal from happening. Thomas is also a “no” vote on the CBA while Acho is a “yes” vote. Tretter hasn’t made public which way he’s voting on the deal.
All 32 team player reps hold a vote to nominate the new president.
There will also be a vote for a new executive committee Tuesday after the president vote. Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard is one player known to be seeking an executive committee seat, he told ESPN.
Timing is a little awkward because voting on the new proposed CBA won’t be complete until Saturday night. If the CBA is approved by a simple majority (50% plus one vote), there could be a scenario where someone strongly against the CBA is the NFLPA president or vice versa.
Winston has been the NFLPA president since March 2014, but he’s not eligible for another term because he didn’t play in the NFL during the 2019 season.