NBA Sues Players Union as the Lockout Drags On

August 3, 2011

The National Basketball Association (NBA) are suing its players association, asking a court to rule that the league’s lockout of players doesn’t violate antitrust law.

The basis of the suit comes from the union’s “threatened use of antitrust litigation to extract more favorable terms and conditions of employment” in collective-bargaining negotiations, the NBA said in a complaint filed today in federal court in Manhattan.

The NBA also said: “The union’s improper threats of antitrust litigation are having a direct, immediate and harmful effect upon the ability of the parties to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.”

The case was assigned to U.S District Judge Paul Gardephe with league seeking court orders validating that the lockout doesn’t violate antitrust laws and that the federal courts don’t have any jurisdiction to end the lockout.

The meeting yesterday between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NPBA) bore no fruit as no consensus could be made on a new labour contract since the lockout began one month ago.

The NBA also filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Relations Labour Board (NLRB) today, accusing the players association of failing to negotiate in good faith, the league said in a statement. In May, the union filed a complaint against the league with the NLRB.

William Hunter, the union’s executive director, expects the players association will seek the dismissal of both the lawsuit and the unfair labour practice charge.

The association “has not made any decision to disclaim its role as the collective bargaining representative of the players and has been engaged in good faith bargaining with the NBA for over two years,” Hunter said in a statement. “We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized.”

The union has threatened on more than two dozen occasions to give up its role as the exclusive bargaining representative of league players, the NBA said in its complaint.

The NBA also said: “The NBPA’s threatened ‘disclaimer’ is nothing more than an impermissible negotiating tactic, which the union incorrectly believes would enable it to commence an antitrust challenge to the NBA’s lockout, which the union in turn believes would strengthen its position in negotiations over a renewed labor agreement.”

The case is National Basketball Association v. National Basketball Players Association, 11-cv-05369, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).