For the players, getting rid of their union is not a new idea. It’s just an option that hasn’t moved ahead very much since it was introduced.
But all of that may soon change.
With NBA labor talks set to resume tomorrow in New York, according to multiple published reports, some 50 hard-line and extremely frustrated NBA players — guys like Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Ray Allen etc. — are seriously looking into decertifying the union if the framework of a deal that’s considered fair can’t be reached this weekend.
The NY Times reports:
About 50 players, including some All-Stars, are planning a drive to dissolve their union if talks again falter, or if the talks produce a labor deal that they deem unpalatable, according to a person who has spoken with the group. The threat could throw a wrench into negotiations as league and union officials attempt to broker a deal, knowing that any compromise might trigger a legal battle that could last for months. “It’s a potential threat to all,” said Gabe Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University. “It could signal the breakdown of collective bargaining talks.”
Dissolving the union, also known as decertification, would allow the players to sue the N.B.A. under federal antitrust law, and could force the owners to end the lockout.
But there are many potential obstacles, both legal and otherwise, and the decertification process could take two months.
By that time, the entire 2011-12 season might be lost. The most immediate outcome of a decertification drive would be chaos, the mere threat of which could hasten a deal. Feldman said it could be “just another ploy to gain leverage” for the players and a “major weapon in collective bargaining.” But it also could make it tougher to reach a deal. The 50-player faction is essentially demanding that the union make no more concessions. That means holding firm for a 52.5 percent share of league revenue — as the union has done so far — and rejecting any new restrictions on contracts and free agency.
Decertification would signal the end of Billy Hunter’s run, and for that to take place, 30 players need to sign a petition, leading to an election, after which a majority win would trigger the dissolving of the union.
There’s no telling at the moment if this renewed push for union decertification will lead to action from either side of the labor fight, but due to the uncertainty it causes, the mere threat will undoubtedly place additional pressure on everyone to get a deal done soon.
That’s not such a bad thing.