Russell Okung, NFLPA Vice President, Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against NFLPA

Russell Okung
Russell Okung / Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The NFLPA has been at the center of the news cycle over the last few weeks as players decide whether or not to ratify the proposed collective bargaining agreement that would, among many other things, extend the regular season to 17 games. The voting period was supposed to be finished on Thursday, but was extended until Saturday so players could fully digest the proposal. Coincidentally, this is also the week when Eric Winston, currently president of the Players Association, is up for re-election, along with 10 other members of the executive committee.

Russell Okung, who spent last year as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers and was traded last week to Carolina, is a VP of the NFLPA and has plans to run for president of the association. Okung has also been very vocal about his opposition to this deal. On Monday, he filed an unfair labor practice charge against the organization he is a part of and executive director DeMaurice Smith, per New York Times NFL writer Ken Belson. From the article:

"Russell Okung, who has been vocal opponent of the proposed 10-year labor deal now before roughly 2,000 N.F.L. players, on Monday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the independent federal agency tasked with guarding employee rights. The three-page filing accuses the N.F.L.P.A. staff, including its executive director, DeMaurice Smith, of forcing a vote on the deal over the objections of its executive committee, in violation of the union’s constitution. Okung also accused the union’s leadership of trying to muzzle him from speaking out about the lack of transparency with the executive committee about the negotiations with N.F.L. owners, which began last year."


To have your vice president file such a charge isn't a particularly good thing, shall we say, at any time, much less in the middle of CBA negotiations. Okung makes strong claims here that reflect poorly upon his fellow members at the top of the NFLPA hierarchy if true.

It was never going to be pretty, but this CBA negotiation period is turning ugly. It may only be the beginning, too.