NFL team owners this week decided that players will no longer be allowed to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. And if they do, they will be subject to punishment and their team will be subject to fines.
The owners did provide the players with an alternative, of sorts: If a player does not wish to stand and salute the flag, he can stay in the locker room and wait for the anthem to end. This new league policy is meant to enforce a particular vision of patriotism, one that involves compliance rather than freedom of expression. The policy is also illegal — for a host of reasons.
The clearest illegality derives from the fact that the league adopted its new policy without bargaining with the players union. When employees, including football players, are represented by a union, the employer — including a football league — can’t change the terms of employment without discussing the change with the union. Doing so is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.
If, as the NFL Players Association says, the employer implemented this change on its own, the policy is flatly illegal for that reason and should be rescinded by the league…..