The attorney representing retired NFL players alleges the players’ union stonewalled his clients when confronted with questions whether their Social Security disability payments would be affected before the labor agreement with the league was narrowly ratified last month.
Ben Meiselas told The Associated Press on Friday that email exchanges between his clients and the NFLPA show the union refusing to provide responses to direct questions about the status of their disability benefits before and after the agreement was presented to its players for a vote on March 5.
It wasn’t until after the deal passed on March 15 by a mere 60-vote margin when his clients learned they would lose out on disability benefits included in the previous CBA.
“The NFLPA not only refused to answer the questions but at times provided misleading information,” Meiselas said by phone. “They stated they would only address these issues until after the vote, which makes no sense to address pressing concerns.”
The AP has reviewed the email exchanges between a family member of a retired player and NFLPA officials which support Meiselas’ claims. The AP received the documents on the condition the exchanges would not be revealed because they are private.
NFLPA Assistant Executive Director George Atallah responded to the AP on Friday in an email, calling the allegations “false."
Atallah then referred to a two-page letter the union sent to players and Meiselas dismissing the lawyer's allegations on Wednesday.
Meiselas says the lack of a definitive response raises further concerns why a clause regarding disability payments was changed only after the agreement was ratified. Meiselas, who also represents free-agent safety Eric Reid, is calling for a re-vote in saying the changes made should invalidate the CBA set to run through 2030.
The NFLPA has acknowledged a change was made to the agreement, but only to correct an omission. The union added, the change was not substantive.
Meiselas disagrees in noting the added clause affects hundreds of retired players who had applied for Social Security disability insurance payments before Jan. 1, 2015.
Meiselas says the email exchanges also dispute the NFLPA saying it outlined the changes and how they would impact 400 players in a presentation to former players.
“It doesn’t just poke a hole in that, it makes a nuclear crater in their press statement, which was shown as a complete lie,” Meiselas said. “Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it appears it’s a massive cover-up that detrimentally impacted hundreds of disabled families that rely on disability benefits to survive.”
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