Amid reports that players would be voting to authorize the NHLPA to disclaim interest, the NHL on Friday filed a complaint in federal court to affirm the legality of the lockout and a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board arguing unfair labor practice.
Simply put, the league’s action is a pre-emptive move sought to eliminate the leverage that players could create by dissolving their union.
In a statement, the NHL said Friday’s class action complaint was a result of “information indicating that NHL Players have or will be asked to vote to authorize the National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Executive Board to proceed to “disclaim interest” in continuing to represent the Players in collective bargaining.”
Reports surfaced Friday that players were set to vote whether to allow the NHLPA to disclaim interest. If the majority of players were to vote in favor, then Donald Fehr and the NHLPA could simply walk away from the players. At that point, players could file antitrust legislation to rule the lockout illegal.
At the same time, the NHL also went to the National Labor Relations Board to complain about the attempt to disclaim interest, saying 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.”
None of Friday’s developments technically prohibits the sides from working out a new collective bargaining agreement or engaging in further talks. What it does is brings the court system into one avenue of the process.