NBA Players’ Association considering suing League to block lockout
According to the NBA players’ association union boss Billy Hunter, there hasn’t been any progress in talks between the union and the league regarding a new collective bargaining agreement. Apparently the two sides are miles apart over several crucial issues. The league sent a proposal to the players’ union in January that proposed some drastic changes. The NBA’s looking for players to take a 38 per cent cut in salaries among other things. The union, of course, didn’t agree to this, but said it would be willing to lower the 57 per cent revenue that players are guaranteed.
If there isn’t a new agreement in place before next season there’s a good chance the league will lockout the players. But the union is now considering decertification as a way to fight against a lockout. If the union decertifies, by American antitrust laws, it could sue the NBA by contending that the league is conducting a group boycott. The NFL Players Association did this in 1989 when it was having problems with the NFL football league. After suing the owners, the NFL players won unrestricted free agency rights, which came into effect for the first time three years later in 1992.
Hunter admitted the players’ union was talking about the possibility of decertifying, but it’s not something that would be done in the immediate future. He said it’s one of the union’s options though. He added that he will be meeting with the league in January to see if they can still work out a deal by the time the league’s All-Star weekend rolls around in February. It’s expected the two sides will have a lengthy bargaining discussion during the break for the All Star game in Los Angeles.
Hunter said if NBA commissioner David Stern and the owners don’t budge, then a lockout looks very likely. However, decertification would mean the players’ pensions, guaranteed salaries, and minimum contracts would be lost.
Experts say if the NBA is being truthful when it claims the league is losing money and the current contract is unsustainable, then the league probably won’t view the possibility of decertification as much of a threat. At the moment, when revenues increase for the owners, salaries also increase for the players. But the league believes the players’ union is benefiting more from the deal and basically want to place some type of salary cap in the bargaining agreement.