Saturday, December 15, 2012

The NHL's Power Play

So the mediation has not worked and the NHL has decided to bring out their legal weapons.   The NHL made two legal filings ton Friday.  First, the NHL filed a class-action complaint in New York Federal Court aiming for declaratory relief that their lockout was legal.  This was a strategic move to get home field advantage in any legal dispute.  In the NFL lockout, the NFLPA players filed their antitrust lawsuit in the Eighth Circuit because that circuit has been characterized as union friendly as opposed to the Second Circuit, where the New York Federal Court resides in and is seen more pro-employer.  This mirrors the tactic taken by the NBA in their most recent lawsuit.  Could this be a prelude to the NHLPA union decertifying and bringing an anti-trust suit?

I would not be surprised if the NHLPA decertifies,  especially based on what the NHL has complained in their Unfair Labor Practice charge they complained of to the National Labor Relations Board.  The NHL complained 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 did not exactly deny the facts of the accusation, but moreso denied the law when they responded by saying that 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."  The NHLPA had previous discussions on whether to issue a "disclaimer of interest" where the union walks away from representing players, with its primary advantage being that it is quicker than decertification and more informal.

It looks like the winter may be over before we see some action on the ice.