NHL files suit against union
The NHL lockout has landed in federal court.
The league on Friday filed a class-action complaint in New York federal court in an effort to confirm “the ongoing legality of the lockout.” It also filed an unfair practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the Players' Association “has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process.”
Players voted Thursday to authorize its union's executive board to file a disclaimer of interest with the U.S. Department of Labor. Disclaiming interest is similar to decertification, a tactic the NFL and NBA players associations employed during their recent lockouts. Disclaiming interest instantly disbands the union and does not involve the labor relations board, while decertification could take 60 days.
The NHL could no longer negotiate with executive director Donald Fehr or special counsel Steve Fehr if the union disclaims interest, said Jared Simmer, an adjunct professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon. The union would immediately cease representing players, who then could file antitrust lawsuits against the league.
The union released a statement late Friday, saying they believe the league's position without merit.
“The NHLPA has just received a copy of the National Labor Relations Board charge and has not yet been served with the lawsuit,” the statement read. “However, based on what we've learned so far, the NHL appears to be arguing that Players should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union. We believe that their position is completely without merit.”
Several players said the union board was expected to disclaim interest soon. The league claims that such a tactic “constitutes bad faith bargaining.” The league named Penguins' union representative Craig Adams as a defendant because Adams is a member of the board.
“In past labor situations, this has been called the nuclear option,” Simmer said. “What players would be doing is blowing it up with hope the negative publicity, cost and time forces owners back to the table to get a deal done. It's a risk, but it's a risk players might take if they feel talks are going nowhere.”
The NHL and union have not negotiated since owners and players met Dec. 4-5 in New York. The league asked for clarity on three points, including length of a new labor contract, and the union responded with a new proposal Dec. 6.
Owners rejected the offer, and the sides have not bargained since, though federal mediators met separately with the NHL and NHLPA on Wednesday and Thursday in New Jersey.
The lockout hit Day 89 Friday. Games are canceled through Dec. 30.
No negotiations are scheduled.
The NHL has not declared a drop-dead date to begin play, but a 48-game 1995 season began in late January. The league waited until early February 2005 before canceling the 2004-05 campaign.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.