WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board Friday ordered the National Football League to pay between $21 million and $25 million in wages and bonus incentives to striking football players who were barred from playing in games on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19.
The agency also said in a complaint filed by its Baltimore regional director, Louis J. D'Amico, that players on teams that might have been but are not in postseason playoffs because of the outcomes of the Oct. 18-19 games are entitled to playoff bonuses of $6,000 or $10,000 each.
The complaint--the equivalent of an indictment in labor law--said the NFL Management Council illegally discriminated against the players who struck by not allowing them to play the weekend after they unconditionally ended their 24-day walkout.
Absent an appeal, the NLRB complaint gave the owners 20 days to make the payments to the striking players. But management said it will appeal the case to an administrative law judge.
"The returning of the complaint is the first step in the judicial process," said John Jones, a spokesman for the council. "We believe the reporting deadlines were fairly administered and properly announced and everybody was aware of them."
A hearing on the complaint was scheduled for Feb. 8 here. Depending on how far each side wants to take appeals, it could be up to two years before the players receive money awarded under the complaint.
After the law judge rules, either party can appeal that decision to the full five-member board. And its subsequent decision can be appealed to a federal appeals court.
The complaint charges that the owners' rule adopted about two weeks into the strike required any player wanting to return and play in a Sunday or Monday game to report back to work by 1 p.m. on the previous Wednesday.
However, non-roster replacement players could be signed to play in Sunday games as late as 4 p.m. on the Saturday before and in Monday night games as late as 4 p.m. that day. The complaint noted that the players had unconditionally ended the strike Oct. 15.
That discrimination, according to the complaint, amounted to illegal coercion by the owners in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
Based on management figures that NFL players average $230,000 a year in salaries, each would be entitled to between $14,000 and $15,000 plus any bonus incentives, under the NLRB's order.
In addition, players on teams that might have made the playoffs either as division winners or as wild-card participants would collect another $10,000 and $6,000, respectively.