It looks like the NHL lockout might have finally kicked things up a notch, and could be headed for the court room.
The NHLPA informed the NHL that their Executive Negotiating Committee had approved a potential disclaimer of interest for the 700 plus members of the NHLPA to vote on. The disclaiming interest move is essentially a swifter, cleaner decertification process for the players union that starts the wheels turning for individual players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL claiming damages and lost wages.
In the United States, antitrust laws prohibit owners from locking out employees who don't belong to a union. The punishment for doing so is triple the wages lost during the lockout.
It was thought that both sides badly wanted to avoid things ending up in a court rooms hands, but with the lockout rolling into its 90th day of existence the NHLPA didnt see many more options. The NHL had hinted previously that decertification would most likely lead to the entire 2012-13 season being cancelled, but that doesnt seem close to a reality at this point.
The NHL immediately responded by filing a Class Action lawsuit against the NHLPA in New York Federal Court seeking a Declaration confirming the ongoing legality of the lockout. With the filing of the 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 unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.
The NHLPA responded in a released statement by claiming the lawsuit was without merit before actually taking a look at it.
Based on what weve learned so far, the NHL appears to be arguing that the Players should be stopped from even considering their rights whether or not to be represented by a union, said the NHLPA in a statement. We believe that the NHLs position is completely without merit.
The NHL and NHLPA are both ridiculously close in CBA negotiations with an agreement on money and the make whole provision, and only sat in disagreement on a handful of personal player contract rights, the CBA length and the transition rules for the CBA with a 48-game schedule still a very real possibility. The lawsuits and allegations between both sides are clearly not helping matters for either side, but only time will tell which side the law ultimately favors.