SBD/August 2, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Lockout Watch, Day 33: League Files Charge With NLRB, Lawsuit Against NBPA

The NBA today filed a federal lawsuit against the NBPA seeking a declaration that the ongoing lockout is lawful, as well as a charge with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an order to force the players union to bargain in good faith. "These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," said NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver in a statement. "For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith." The moves come a day after the league and union held their first CBA negotiating session since the lockout began July 1. In the unfair labor practices charge, the NBA alleges that the union has failed to bargain in good faith, and instead is pursuing a strategy of threatening to decertify the union, unless its demands for a new CBA are met by the league. “The Union has repeatedly threatened that, unless its demands for a successor agreement are met by the NBA, it will engage in the pretense of ‘decertifying’ or ‘disclaiming interest’ in further representing NBA players,” the NBA states in the filing to the NLRB. “This is an impermissible negotiating tactic, designed by the Union as a predicate for the commencement of an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA's current lockout and other practices, and intended, by the misuse of the antitrust laws, to create leverage for the Union in its efforts to achieve its preferred outcome in collective bargaining. The Union should be ordered to bargain with the NBA in good faith.”

LAWSUIT CLAIMS LOCKOUT DOES NOT VIOLATE ANTITRUST LAWS: The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and "seeks to establish, among other things, that the NBA's lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws and that if the Players Association's ‘decertification’ were found to be lawful, all existing player contracts would become void and unenforceable," the NBA said in a statement. NBPA officials were not immediately available for comment. The NBPA has not yet decertified, but union officials have said it is an option. The NBPA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the NBA more than two months ago, alleging that the league had engaged in unfair labor practices and there is an ongoing investigation of that charge. The NBA has said the NBPA's allegations in that charge are without merit (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

TWITTER REAX
: The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brian Smith wrote on his Twitter feed, “Major move by the NBA and league owners definitely threw the first punch. This thing's going to get messy. … Smart moves by the NBA, as well. Stern, Silver, owners know what's at stake, and they're trying to set a precedent.” USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt wrote on Twitter, “Labor battle between NBA/owners and players just got a little more intense.” CBS Sports’ Ken Berger: “The interesting twist here is the federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. #NBA has fired pre-emptive strike vs. decert … and beat @TheNBPA to punch in selecting venue for possible antitrust case.” TrueHoop’s Larry Coon: “NBA says, ‘We'll see your NLRB complaint, and raise you a federal lawsuit.’” National Post’s Eric Koreen: “What could constitute negotiating in bad faith more than suing the other side for negotiating in bad faith the day after your 1st meeting? … The NBA probably has a case. However, so would the NBPA. Neither side negotiating in good faith. Posturing is the new giving a damn.” The AP’s Brian Mahoney: “The old joke fits again: NBA - Nothing But Attorneys.”
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