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Bills players give union the OK to decertify

The Bills' players met with their union chief in a meeting this afternoon and voted to give the union the authority to decertify next year if it decides that is an appropriate tactic to use in labor negotiations with the NFL.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, visited the Bills. Buffalo was the seventh team he has visited this season on his tour to every club this fall. Smith gave the players an update for more than an hour on the collective bargaining agreement with the league, which runs out after this season. Smith has said on numerous occasions he's expecting the owners to lock out the players in March.

"We did have the vote, and we did vote in favor to give the players association the option to decertify our union in the event that no collective bargaining agreement is reached before the March deadline," said Bills union representative George Wilson. "This is not to say that we are going to decertify. This is just an opportunity to keep our options open. This is a move we could possibly use in order to challenge the league's antitrust exemption in the court system."

The union is asking each team to give its approval of the decertification tactic now, rather than taking a vote of players after the season. The union would use decertification to either block a lockout or to combat the league's imposing of unilateral work rules. The union could then sue the NFL and argue that it is violating antitrust laws by imposing standard rules regarding acquisition of players.

Wilson said he thinks a lockout will happen.

"At the end of the day, I am telling my guys to save, save, save," Wilson said. "Minimize your debt, save as much as you can and prepare your families for it."

---Mark Gaughan

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