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Players have said they won't agree to a new deal that amounts to a pay cut. Smith has been warning players since he took office in early 2009 to put aside money in case of a work stoppage.
The union has started the process of having players vote to decertify the union, a step that eventually would allow players to sue the NFL if the owners decide to impose a lockout.
The NFLPA was decertified in 1989, two years after a failed players' strike. It returned as a union in 1993, when a contract was reached with the league that provided for free agency. That landmark CBA was renewed or restructured several times since 1993, including in 2006. The owners opted out of that deal two years ago.
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