NFL Owners Approve Oakland Raiders’ Move To Las Vegas

As reported by KPBS:

Any hopes that the Raiders would turn their eyes to San Diego in wake of the Chargers’ departure all but evaporated Monday when National Football League owners conditionally approved the Oakland franchise’s move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders will play in Oakland for two more seasons before heading to Nevada, the team announced. It is the third franchise relocation green-lighted by the NFL in a little more than a year, including the Chargers and Rams to Los Angeles.

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” owner Mark Davis said. “We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff.”

Very slim hopes were raised that San Diego could provide an alternative destination for the Raiders when development of his Las Vegas plans hit some snags. Such a result would have been ironic given local fans’ antipathy toward their Northern California rival. …

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Local NFL Fans Express Themselves to the League About Possible L.A. Move

As the National Football League neared a final decision on whether to relocate any franchises to Los Angeles, fans in cities that could lose teams gave the league an earful.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recognized how touchy things have become, as an unprecedented sequence of proposals and counterproposals has played out among the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. “We’ve been 20 years not in the Los Angeles market,” Goodell said, according to ESPN, calling an L.A. team “a huge plus for fans. There are 20 million fans in that market that would love to have a franchise. But we’ve got to do this responsibly. There’s a process, and we’re going through that process.”

Its latest set of twists and turns has played out at hearings in the hometowns of teams contemplating a move. “The three-hour meetings, held on consecutive nights in downtown theaters, were more listening sessions for the NFL than back-and-forth exchanges with fans, who registered online for free passes to the events,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The league also streamed the hearings online.”

Fan fury

ChargersAt times, fan frustration dominated. “It was loud. It was angry. It was sad. But no matter how much they pleaded for the Chargers to stay in San Diego, many wondered if it even mattered,” USA Today observed at the city’s downtown Spreckels Theater. The Chargers, according to the paper, “say they receive 25 percent of their local revenues from Los Angeles and Orange counties.” In St. Louis, the assembled booed every mention of Stan Kroenke, the Rams owner seemingly intent on shifting his team to a complex to be built on an Inglewood lot where a Walmart once might have been. Echoing a common sentiment, one fan told the Times “there was a feeling around St. Louis that the town hall meeting was merely a formality.”

Comments from the League seemed to reinforce that cynical judgment. In remarks reported by the Times, NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman called the hearings “very cathartic,” but denied that fans’ strongly-voiced opinions ultimately held any sway. “What I got from the crowd was the passion and emotion. There were a couple of ideas to think about,” he said. “But this is not the time to negotiate. We weren’t trying to negotiate with the crowd. What we were trying to do was give them a voice, and be able to carry that voice back, and that happened pretty effectively.”

Hail Mary in Oakland

But in Oakland, at least, fans found succor from their team’s owner, Mark Davis, who vowed to do all he could to stay out of Los Angeles. “We need help from the community as well to get something that our fans in Oakland can be proud of,” he said,according to NFL.com. “We don’t have that right now and we want it. It can be done in Oakland. We’ve talked to three mega developers to get this going. We have been trying for at least the past six years, every day, hundreds of hours, to try to get something done here in Oakland.”

Nevertheless, Davis’s dedication might not pay off. As NFL.com pointed out, the Oakland Coliseum, where the Raiders still play, “was built in 1966 and has been plagued by numerous plumbing and other problems over the past decade.” In Los Angeles, under a proposed joint deal, the Raiders and the Chargers would share a new $1.7 billion dollar stadium located in Carson.

Whatever the feelings involved, the league appeared to be set on a course for a relocation process that could begin — and end — in January. “Teams would pay a fee to apply to exit their current market, and NFL owners can vote to determine the order of preference for franchises herding themselves into the California queue,” UPI noted.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Carson City Council approves NFL stadium project for Raiders, Chargers

As reported by the Orange County Register:

CARSON – On a night when dozens of jersey-wearing, flag-waving Chargers and Raiders fans turned Carson City Hall into an indoor tailgate, the Carson City Council on Tuesday night approved the Chargers’ and Raiders’ plans to build a $1.65 billion, 70,000-seat stadium next to the 405 Freeway.

That eliminated a significant obstacle for the two NFL franchises as they race to catch up with an already-approved $1.86 billion Inglewood stadium project backed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

The council’s unanimous vote not only was a major step toward the NFL returning to the Los Angeles-Orange County market after a 20-year absence, but it also put additional pressure on already-embattled officials from San Diego and Oakland to come up with plans in the coming weeks to keep the Chargers and Raiders in their current home markets. …

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New Labor Protections for CA Cheerleaders Moving Through Legislature

Legislative committee hearings aren’t known for their heart-pounding excitement. But, you might hear a round of cheers to excite the crowds at this week’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism & Internet Media Committee.

On Tuesday, the committee is scheduled to consider a proposal by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, that would provide greater labor protections for professional cheerleaders. Assembly Bill 202, which scored a 5-2 win in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment earlier this month, would protect cheerleaders of professional sports teams from workplace abuses by classifying them as employees, not independent contractors.

Specifically, the bill would amend the Labor Code to state that “a cheerleader who is utilized by a California-based professional sports team directly or through a labor contractor during its exhibitions, events, or games, shall be deemed to be an employee.”

Gonzalez: Treat cheerleaders fairly

Gonzalez says that professional cheerleaders are being exploited by multi-billion-dollar professional sports franchises.

“AB202 simply demands that any professional sports team – or their chosen contractor – treat the women on the field with the same dignity and respect that we treat the guy selling beer,” said Gonzalez, who was a cheerleader in high school and college. “NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades.”

She added, “They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage.”

Gonzalez’s legislation, which has the support of the California Employment Lawyers Association, California Labor Federation and Consumer Attorneys of California, comes on the heals of high-profile lawsuits by professional football cheerleaders that allege widespread workplace violations. The allegations include claims that the Cincinnatti Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets failed to pay overtime or even the minimum wage.

Cheerleaders claim NFL teams broke labor laws

Caitlin Yates, one of the former NFL cheerleaders that has filed a lawsuit for labor violations, testified earlier this month before the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment about her experiences with the Oakland Raiders.

“When I first started working as a Raiderette, I was just happy to make the squad and support my team,” Yates said. “However, over time I realized that the way I was being treated was unfair.”

Oakland_Raiderettes_at_Falcons_at_Raiders_11-2-08_04Yates claimed that cheerleaders were sexually harassed, forced to pay out-of-pocket for job-related expenses and work with injuries.

“There are some teams out there who don’t treat their cheerleaders as employees or pay their cheerleaders a fair wage,” she told lawmakers. “We are professionals who deserved to be paid fairly no matter what team we play for.”

The issue has been a black eye for the National Football League, which has acted quickly to settle lawsuits and avoid similarly embarrassing testimony. Last September, two former Raiderette cheerleaders reached a $1.25-million settlement over accusations of “failing to pay minimum wage, withholding wages for months and refusing to reimburse cheerleaders for their business expenses,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers paid out $825,000 to settle allegations that one cheerleader was paid just $2 per hour over two seasons.

Independent contractor vs. employees

For all of its sex appeal, much of the debate about Gonzalez’s legislation centers on the highly-technical differences in employment law between an independent contractor and employee. Some companies seek to designate their workers as independent contractors to avoid payroll taxes or other workplace requirements that are mandated on employees.

A 2006 study by the United States Government Accountability Office found that “misclassification of workers as independent contractors … cost the United States government $2.72 billion in revenue from Social Security, unemployment and income taxes in 2006 alone.”

“When companies misclassify workers as independent contractors instead of as employees, these workers do not receive worker protections, including minimum wages, overtime pay, and health and vacation benefits, to which they would otherwise be entitled,” a legislative analysis of AB202 contends. “Because employers do not pay unemployment taxes for independent contractors, workers who are misclassified cannot obtain unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.”

That explains why professional sports teams would want to treat cheerleaders as independent contractors. But, do they meet the standard?

250px-Oakland_Raiders.svg“Under common-law rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done,” the IRS explains on itsinformation page detailing the differences between employees and independent contractors. “This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

The IRS identifies three areas for determining whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors. Those questions are: behavioral, whether the employee has control over the work; financial, who controls the business aspects of the work relationship; and the type of relationship, whether the work performed is a key aspect of the business.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, “You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer – what will be done and how it will be done.”

If the claims in some of the lawsuits are accurate, some NFL teams clearly exercised controlled of what and how cheerleaders performed their jobs.

“If a Raiderettes cheerleader forgets to bring the right pom-poms to practice, she’s fined $10,” Mother Jones summarized of the claims in one lawsuit. “The same thing happens if she wears the wrong workout gear to a rehearsal, she forgets to bring a yoga mat to practice, or her boots aren’t cleaned and polished for game day.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Stadium plan for Chargers, Raiders near Los Angeles advances

As reported by the Associated Press and featured in the Sacramento Bee:

A proposed stadium near Los Angeles that could become home for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders hit an early milestone Wednesday.

Organizers said sufficient petition signatures have been verified by election officials to qualify the proposal for the ballot in Carson, where the project would be built on a former landfill.

The Raiders and Chargers are planning a shared stadium in the city on the edge of Los Angeles if both teams fail to get new stadiums in their current hometowns.

NFL urges cities to act quickly if they hope to keep teams from moving to L.A.

As reported by the Orange County Register:

PHOENIX – With the NFL gearing up for the possibility of one or more franchises declaring by the league’s October meetings their intention to relocate to Los Angeles, NFL officials are cautioning officials in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland that any pitches to keep their teams need to be made this year and sooner rather than later.

While the league’s annual window for teams to announce their intention to relocate remains Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, NFL officials are working on a number of fronts to enable the league to be ready for a vote months earlier should the Rams, Raiders or Chargers commit to moving out their current markets.

“We’re setting all this up to go earlier than that and we’ve told the home markets they ought not to depend on that Jan. 1,” NFL senior vice president Eric Grubman said in wide-ranging, nearly hour-long interview. “That they ought to go faster than that. We may feel like the right thing to do is to make that decision earlier so that everybody knows where they stand.”

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