The NHL has filed a class action complaint on Friday in order to make the lockout legal in the eyes of the federal courts. This comes with the NHLPA’s threat to dissolve the union. If that were to occur, as has been noted elsewhere, the league would be opened up to the threat of lawsuits.
“The Union has threatened to pursue this course not because it is defunct or otherwise incapable of representing NHL players for purposes of collective bargaining, nor because NHL players are dissatisfied with the representation they have been provided by the NHLPA,” says the NHL’s complaint. “The NHLPA’s threatened decertification or disclaimer is nothing more than an impermissible negotiating tactic, which the Union incorrectly believes would enable it to commence an antitrust challenge to the NHL’s lockout.”
The NHL has insisted that the union is only considering this course of action to get more “favourable terms” at the negotiating stage.
Also in the courts, the NHL has filed an unfair labour practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
“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,” said a statement from the NHLPA. “We believe that their position is completely without merit.”
The NHLPA’s executive board recently tabled a decision to request a vote from the membership as to whether or not to file something called a “disclaimer of interest.” This is essentially the path to dissolve the union, something that NBA’s players’ union did before solving its own lockout recently. From that standpoint, the players would be free to file antitrust suits against the owners for depriving them of working conditions.
So the NHL’s move to have the lockout declared legal is a way to nip that in the bud.
The players, conversely, are hoping that by driving things to the hoop with respect to lawsuits, they’ll be able to attack the lockout and drive it into the history books. Time will if either strategy will have much bearing on how things play out or if anything will lead to a hastened end to the lockout.