Thursday, November 3, 2011

NBA Union To Decertify?

NBAThe NBA negotiations have certainly been interesting.  Now the latest news suggests that a group of 50 players could seek a decertification election if the union doesn't reach a deal soon with the NBA, or reaches a deal that gives away too much.  And we're not talking about an NFL-style decert that is arguably more of a means to add antitrust pressure than anything else.  Given that the NBA players have talked to an antitrust attorney, that strategy is obviously appealing to them; however, there also seems to be a genuine unhappiness with the union's negotiations.  In other words, if successful (and that's still a really big if), this decertification doesn't look to be the type that will quickly be erased once a deal is reached.

In the short term, it remains to be seen what effect this news will have on negotiations.  It would seem to limit the union's flexibility in negotiations if they take the decertification risk seriously.  On the other hand, the NBA could be hurt by decertification, so this handcuffing could actually strengthen the union's position (think about how the debt ceiling debates and how the Tea Party Republicans hard line gave the Republican leadership leverage).  

Stay tuned.

-JH

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Comments

As a labor lawyer with very minimal antitrust knowledge, this has always seemed like a very risky strategy to me. If the union is decertified, the owners could immediately implement whatever wages and other terms and conditions of employment they choose. Those players under contract couldn't be forced to play, of course, but they would presumably no longer be able to play elsewhere (although the Italian and Spanish courts would need to go along -- not sure how that would work). And the players would all have to individually decide to come back under the owner's new terms or not, which would seem to be a recipe for disunity.

So, the only upside would be the antitrust lawsuit. Can anyone explain how that helps the players? Is the theory that the individual teams cannot collude to run a draft or otherwise coordinate wages/prices? Didn't the NFL win a case that it was a unitary business despite the individual ownership of clubs? If the players were to win, how do they parlay that into the revenue percentage they want? Would love any comment on that.

Posted by: King | Nov 4, 2011 9:19:38 AM

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