DALLAS (CN) – A labor union on Tuesday claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat to punish players who kneel in protest during the national anthem violated the National Labor Relations Act.
Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in Fort Worth, two days after Jones told reporters after a 31-35 loss to the Green Bay Packers that “we will not disrespect the flag.”
Jones is the first NFL owner to explicitly threaten discipline for the practice. The union says employers are banned from threatening workers for “concerted” activity.
“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 he will fire any players involved in such concerted activity,” the complaint to the NLRB states.
The union’s chief organizer Wade Rathke said Jones is bullying his employees to “unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent” work condition.
“The point is he threatened anybody and everybody,” Rathke told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “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 Trump might not get that. Jones might be confused. But these are workers with rights with the National Labor Relations Board.”
The NLRB will have an agent contact the union and the Cowboys to investigate the allegations, possibly resulting in the filing of a formal case to be tried before an administrative judge.
Jones’ announcement came two weeks after the Cowboys locked arms and kneeled before the national anthem was played before their game against the Arizona Cardinals, protesting police violence against African Americans. Protests increased around the league after President Donald Trump criticized them.
On Tuesday, Trump said on Twitter that federal tax laws should be changed to punish teams that do not punish players for such protests.
Jones said on Sunday: “There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other. We will not disrespect the flag.”
Individual Cowboys players have yet to kneel during the anthem, although two have held up their arm and fist at the end of the song.