In a direct effort to thwart the NBA players’ ability to decertify as a union and file an antitrust lawsuit against the League, the NBA took two legal steps against the union on August 2nd: the filing of (1) an unfair labor practice (“ULP”) charge with the National Labor Relations Board and (2) a declaratory judgment action in United States District Court, Southern District of New York. The actions claim that the players are threatening to decertify their union and then sue the League under antitrust laws in an attempt to force the owners to end their current lockout of the players.
The ULP charge alleges that the union (NBPA) violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing to negotiate in good faith. The League alleges:
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 League believes that the union’s threatened decertification would not be a good faith, unequivocal renunciation of its representation status.
The declaratory judgment action is a preventive legal step in federal court to parallel their efforts at the Labor Board. The action initially seeks a declaration from the federal district court that the League’s current lockout does not violate federal antitrust laws. In addition, the lawsuit seeks the court’s support for potentially drastic salary reform should the union opt to dissolve its representative status. The NBA has asked the federal court to declare that the union’s decertification would result in the voiding of all existing players’ contracts because, it argues, without a union and a collective bargaining relationship, the terms and conditions of those previously negotiated contracts could no longer apply.