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NBA nails players with unfair labor charge

League files two claims against players’ union with NLRB and federal district court

Taking a page from the National Football League and its protracted labor dispute with its players’ union, the National Basketball Association today decided to step up and take control of the headlines recently devoted to endless professional sports drama. 

Two days after meeting with the players for the first time since locking them out July 1, the NBA filed a pair of claims against the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)—an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board, and a lawsuit in New York’s federal district court.

According to the NBA’s official release, the unfair labor practice charge claims the NBPA has failed to bargain in good faith because of unlawful threats to commence a sham "decertification" and an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA's lockout. The federal lawsuit, however, is an attempt to establish that the lockout doesn’t violate federal antitrust laws, and that if the NBPA’s “decertification” were to be ruled lawful, all existing player contracts would become void and unenforceable.

A similar tactic was used by the NFL’s players’ union, which the players decertified this year before ultimately reaching a settlement with the owners last week.

"These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Adam Silver in the statement. "For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith."

While the situation is eerily similar to the NFL’s labor situation, the tactics are completely opposite. During the NFL’s labor struggle, it was the players who looked to litigate whereas the owners wanted to broker an agreement at the negotiating table. This time around, however, having learned from the NFL’s situation, the NBA is the party that has come out swinging, and filed suits against the players’ union. 

Read more about the differences between the two situations on ESPN.

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