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Okung releases letter detailing objections with NFLPA

Russell Okung

The ongoing dispute between National Football League offensive tackle Russell Okung and the NFL Players Association hit another flashpoint as the veteran player publicly released a letter detailing his numerous issues with union.

Days after filing a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency charged with guarding employee rights, Okung tweeted out a letter from his external counsel, Sullivan & Worcester, further outlining his objections.

In the letter, Okung accuses NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union staff ignored the organization’s executive committee about a proposed collective bargaining agreement with the NFL, in violation of their constitution.

“Asked to consider the proposed CBA, the Executive Committee recognized the proposal’s failings and the need for amplification of certain provisions, and voted not to send the proposal to the rank and file,” Okung’s letter reads in part. “The NFLPA staff leadership, in violation of its duties, ignored the Executive Committee, and sent the proposal to the membership for a vote.”

Okung, who previously was on the union’s Executive Committee is referring to a vote last month in which that group voted 6-5 to recommend not passing the NFL owners’ proposed CBA to the entire player group for a vote. Simple majority passage there is required for approval.

That potential labor deal, which would expand each team’s regular season schedule to include a 17th game, is now before all the players, who are due to vote by the end of March 14.

Okung in his NLRB complaint of unfair labor practices also claims the union threatened him with “criminal prosecution and union sanction” for speaking out against the deal. That, however, was not specifically referenced in the letter. But he and his counsel did reference an alleged “manipulation” of the CBA approval process by the union.

“The NFLPA staff leadership once again is manipulating the important business of the union by circumventing the members’ procedural rights,” Okung and his counsel say. “Union staff leadership either cannot or will not review and rectify these significant flaws in the NFLPA governance and the resulting product, and Russell therefore has asked a neutral body to help rectify these serious issues undermining the rights of the members.”

Okung earlier this week also dropped out of the race to become the next NFLPA president, a vote that ultimately went to Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter.