NBA Players ‘Actively Considering’ Union Decertification

by July 11, 2011


The idea to decertify the union has been on the players’ minds since well before the NBA lockout began, and it’s still something that may take place (following in the footsteps of the NFL players). From the NY Times: “N.F.L. players dissolved their union March 11, just before the lockout began, because a clause in their labor agreement would have barred them from doing so for another six months. It was a now-or-never decision. Facing no such artificial deadlines, the National Basketball Players Association put off any decision on decertifying when the N.B.A. lockout began July 1. Billy Hunter, the union’s executive director, said negotiating remained the first priority. But the path the N.F.L. Players Association chose — decertification, coupled with an antitrust lawsuit — remains a weapon in the basketball players’ arsenal should negotiations fail. ‘It’s not off the table in any way,’ said Jeffrey Kessler, the outside counsel for the N.B.P.A. ‘There’s no immediate urgency to that issue. It’s an option the players are actively considering. But they have time to decide whether it makes sense to end the union or not.’ Kessler, who also serves as outside counsel for the football players’ union, is known as a fierce proponent of decertification as a means to gain bargaining leverage. Hunter and Derek Fisher, the basketball players’ union president, prefer to stick to negotiating. Kessler declined to comment on the Eighth Circuit decision’s impact on the N.F.L. discussions. On its face, the decision favored owners. But Kessler, speaking only to the N.B.A. dispute, found encouragement in one part of the decision. The court made a distinction between locked-out players who are under contract and those who are not — free agents and rookies. Because they have yet to sign deals, the court majority wrote, they cannot be classified as locked-out employees.”