NHL files class action complaint against NHLPA in federal court

December 14, 2012

(Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

After weeks of stalemated negotiations, the NHL and NHLPA are going to court.

On Friday, the league announced it had filed a class action complaint in New York Federal Court to declare the lockout legal as well as an unfair labor practice charge to the National Labor Relations Board. 

The preemptive move by the NHL followed reports that the NHLPA would soon hold a vote by its membership to give its executive board the ability to file a disclaimer of interest. A disclaimer of interest dissolves the union, ending its right to represent players, and allow players to file class-action anti-trust lawsuits against the league.

With regard to the unfair labor practice charge, the league alleges that “by threatening to “disclaim interest,” the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.”

The NHLPA issued the following statement Friday evening: “The NHLPA has 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.  We believe that their position is completely without merit.”

The possibility of decertification or filing a disclaimer of interest (read up on the difference here) has long been among the options considered by the NHLPA during this dispute. To be clear, the players have not yet moved to dissolve the union. 

Last year, NBA players filed a disclaimer of interest on Nov. 14, 2011 and 12 days later they reached an agreement with NBA owners to end that sport’s lockout. 

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