Redskins embrace Va. in fight over union dues

December 24, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

There's no place like home for the Washington Redskins, who seem to collect homes the way some youngsters collect football cards.

The Redskins, who play their home games in the District of Columbia and are trying to build a new stadium in Laurel, announced yesterday that their real home is in Virginia, where their training complex is located.

The Redskins said their players don't have to pay union dues to the NFL Players Association because Virginia is a right-to-work state.

The Redskins added that their players now won't be subject to suspensions for failing to pay their dues.

"That is our position," said general manager Charley Casserly, who was notified by the NFL Management Council earlier this week that 41 players were subject to suspension if they didn't pay their $5,000 annual dues by today's deadline. It is believed there are now about 30 Redskins who still haven't paid.

The Redskins' position was immediately challenged by Doug Allen, the assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association, who said that in workmen's compensation cases, the courts ruled the Redskins were a D.C. team.

The District of Columbia doesn't have a right-to-work law, so the players would be subject to suspension if the team is determined to be located there.

"Their legal argument isn't any better than it was then," Allen said. "We're prepared to enforce the [collecting bargaining] agreement."

Allen would not be specific about what the union's next move would be. The options appear to be legal action or filing a grievance with the special master, John Feerick.

It is uncertain what action the union could take in the next 48 hours to get the Redskins suspended immediately and prevent them from playing their next game, against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

A league spokesman said the league's view is that the matter is now one to be decided between the Redskins and the NFLPA.

In any case, the majority of the Redskins players were still refusing to pay their dues yesterday.

The dispute is a continuation of the Redskins' battle with the union over the new collective bargaining agreement. Twenty-seven of the Redskins are appealing the legal decision that led to the agreement, and tight end Terry Orr appeared in court to say the deal was bad for the Redskins because the salary cap will force the team to reduce spending.

Earlier in the week, there were 194 players from 19 teams in non-right-to-work states who hadn't paid their dues. Allen said that besides the Redskins, there were "very few" players remaining who owe dues.

Players in right-to-work states, including the Cowboys, don't have to pay dues, although Allen said close to 50 Cowboys have paid. Wide receiver Michael Irvin, a critic of the collective bargaining agreement, has refused to pay.

Amid this controversy, the Redskins did manage to extend the contracts of two veterans -- offensive lineman Jim Lachey and wide receiver Ricky Sanders -- before yesterday's deadline for adding money to contracts for 1993 that doesn't count against the cap.

Lachey, whose contract expires after the 1994 season, added three more years onto his deal to take him through the 1997 season. He moved above the $2 million-a-year range. It also means the Redskins won't have to use their franchise player designation to protect him.

Sanders, who would have been a free agent at the end of this season, signed for two more years in the $1.3 million range. That means the team will have its top three receivers -- Sanders, Tim McGee and Desmond Howard -- back next year. Art Monk isn't expected to return.

The Redskins failed in an attempt to come to terms on contracts with four players -- running back Brian Mitchell, defensive lineman Bobby Wilson, offensive lineman Ray Brown and kicker Chip Lohmiller.

Mitchell is expected to test the free-agent market in search of a $1 million-a-year deal. Wilson is a restricted free agent who can be kept by matching his best offer. Lohmiller is a transition player so the Redskins can match his best offer when his deal expires after next season.

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