Earlier today, TSN reported the NHLPA Executive Board voted to give the players a vote to proceed with a Disclaimer of Interest. Its long be suspected that the NHLPA would choose to dissolve via this or decertification. The only difference being, a disclaimer of interest happens immediately, but I would take months if the NHLPA chose to decertify. If the NHLPA elects to disclaim interest, it would give the players the ability to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL because they would no longer be represented by a union. The NHL caught word of the report and acted swiftly by filing a Class-Action Complaint and an Unfair Labor Practice Charge. Things just got interesting.
The complaint the NHL filed simply asks the court to confirm the legality of the lockout. The Unfair Labor Practice charge would be used to accuse the players’ plan to disclaim interest as “bad faith bargaining”.
The 36 “defendants and class representatives” named in the lawsuit are from the NHLPA’s negotiating committee and are as followed: Craig Adams, Keith Aucoin, Alex Auld, David Backes, Marty Biron, Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, BJ Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Micheal Del Zotto, Rick DiPietro, Shane Doan, Brandon Dubinsky, Mark Eaton, Ruslan Fedotenko, Alex Goligoski, Ron Hainsey, Scott Hartnell, Jamie Langenbrunner, Manny Malhotra, Ryan McDonagh, Steve Montador, Dominic Moore, Brendan Morrison, Douglas Murray, Cristoval Nieves, George Parros, Chris Phillips, Shane Prince, Cory Schneider, John Tavares, Shea Weber, Kevin Westgarth, Daniel Winnik, James Wisniewski and Henrik Zetterberg.
NEW YORK — Today, in response to information indicating that NHL Players have or will be asked to vote to authorize the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Executive Board to proceed to “disclaim interest” in continuing to represent the Players in collective bargaining, the National Hockey League filed a Class Action Complaint in Federal Court in New York seeking a Declaration confirming the ongoing legality of the lockout.
Simultaneously with the filing of its Complaint, the NHL also filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to “disclaim interest,” the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.
“The NHLPA has just received a copy of the National Labor Relations Board charge and has not yet been served with the lawsuit. 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.”
The twist in the NHL’s filings is the location in which they chose to do it. The charges were filed in New York, where the Federal Court has been believed to give more favorable rulings to professional sports leagues as oppose to their union counterparts.
Before you give up hope, these latest developments don’t exactly spell the end of the season. In fact, it could push things along. The NBA player’s union did this last year and a CBA was reached 11 days later. According to ESPN, the NHLPA has until January 2nd, 2013 to disclaim interest. So although this lawsuit could muddy the waters a little more, the two sides are still legally allowed to negotiate a new CBA and its more likely a decision between the NHL and NHLPA will reached in the somewhat near future. Otherwise, the decision will be in the hands of the court, something neither might be too interested in letting happen.
As fans, we can only do what we’ve been doing for 3 months… wait.