NHL: Labor dispute moves into courts with talks stalled

Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:40pm EST
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(Reuters) - After three months of failed negotiations, the labor dispute between the National Hockey League (NHL) and locked out players moved into the courts on Friday, with the league filing a class action complaint against the players' union.

The league asked U.S. courts to confirm the legality of the lockout. It also filed an unfair labor practice against the players' union.

The players' union said the action had no merit.

The NHL's move appears to be a pre-emptive strike by the league after reports circulated that the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) would seek a vote from its members to proceed with a "disclaim of interest" and no longer represent players in bargaining.

Dissolving the union would free players to file anti-trust lawsuits in the courts and have the lockout found illegal.

"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."

The league also said it was simultaneously filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to "disclaim interest," the NHLPA is engaging in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.

The players' union said it had 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," the NHLPA said in a statement.   Continued...