The NHL and the NHLPA cannot agree to terms to start a new hockey season. So, instead of bargaining in good faith, the players are currently voting on filing a disclaimer of interest.
A disclaimer of interest is where the Union terminates its rights to represent the players. Once representation is terminated, players are able to sue the NHL for antitrust violations. If sued, the NHL could possibly be faced with paying the players three times their lost salary, which to avoid such a hefty fee, see the NHL and the players settling on non-ideal terms and starting a season.
Why is it a sham though? Simply for why it is being done.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr has continually told the players to hold out until January, claiming the best deal is yet to come. While it seems things are coming closer to a deal between the NHL and the NHLPA, there is still significant separation between the two. Instead of bridging those gaps with give-and-take negotiations, the Union under Fehr, continues to stand pat on some of their terms. If the NHLPA would bargain in good faith, the end result could benefit not only the players, but the betterment of the future of the NHL.
The NHL has countered in kind by filing a class action suit in U.S. District Court in New York. The suit is trying to establish the legality of the lockout, which would squash the players potential antitrust lawsuit. The NHL also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NHLPA, claiming they are bargaining in bad faith. If found in favor by the courts, this would disallow the Union from disbanding by a disclaimer of interest.
“The union has threatened to pursue this course not because it is defunct or otherwise incapable of representing NHL players for purposes of collective bargaining, nor because NHL players are dissatisfied with the representation they have been provided by the NHLPA,” the NHL’s complaint states.
“The NHLPA’s threatened decertification or disclaimer is nothing more than an impermissible negotiating tactic, which the union incorrectly believes would enable it to commence an antitrust challenge to the NHL’s lockout.”
The Union, of course, feels otherwise as expressed in recent statement responding the to the NHL’s claims.
“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,” it read. “We believe that their position is completely without merit.”
The NHL’s tactfully filed their claims in New York which guarantees that any ruling would be decided in New York which has been favorable towards management in the past.
The Union, lead by Donald Fehr, is not only trying to gain the upper hand, but trying to bypass negotiating entirely. Instead of truthfully trying to come to terms to benefit the players and the league, Fehr has guided the players into a take all, not going to negotiate, Disclaimer of Interest. Hopefully, for the NHL and the players, the Disclaimer of Interest will not be approved, but if it is, the courts will rule in the NHL’s favor.