President Obama has said he doesn't want to get into it, but more and more it looks like his Labor Department will have to take a side at some point.

From the NY Times:

The N.F.L. responded in court documents Monday to players' attempt to gain an injunction to lift the lockout, claiming that courts are barred from issuing injunctions in labor disputes and that no decision on the injunction should be made before the National Labor Relations Board rules on the N.F.L.'s charge that the union's decertification is a sham. One league official Monday called the decertification "a fake suicide." ...

It goes on to say that the N.L.R.B. has primary jurisdiction in determining the fate of the union's decertification. The N.L.R.B. is still investigating the N.F.L.'s unfair-labor-practices charge and it could be several more weeks, or even months, before the board's general counsel decides whether it finds enough evidence to issue a complaint, which would then lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge. The brief argues that if the N.L.R.B. finds a violation, it will order the union back to the bargaining table, so the court should stay the antitrust case until the N.L.R.B. has made its decision.

If the NLRB doesn't issue a ruling before April 6, it sounds as if the court could go ahead and rule on the players' injunction request.

NLRB is a four-member board, made up of three Democratic appointees and one Republican. Two of the Democrats were appointed by Obama; the third, a Clinton appointee, was named chair by Obama in 2009. The Republican was added to the board last year as a GOP appointee. The board is awaiting a fifth member, yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Given the board's heavy Obama influence, and the presence of a conservative lobby that opposed his last nominee, Becker (who, coincidentally was blocked by Senate Republicans), the NFL's labor dispute could take on political significance before all is said and done.

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