Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  16 responses

Derek Fisher Opposes Union Decertification

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher are facing considerable pressure from some powerful agents to decertify the NBA players’ union, and there’s talk of a possible player revolt at a meeting to be held today in Las Vegas.

According to union president Derek Fisher, though, decertification isn’t the way to go, and he’s not pleased with player agents who have expressed their concerns through the media and not the union directly.

From the NY Times:

“I find the position of these agents questionable, at best,” Derek Fisher, the union president, said by telephone Wednesday evening. “If they’re so concerned about the direction of the union, then why have they not contacted me at a minimum to share these concerns?” Fisher said that dissolving the union — a tactic often referred to by legal experts as the “nuclear option” — was not necessary to get a deal done. “In our opinion, it’s always been something that, only when we truly believe that we cannot do our jobs as a players association, as a union, would we ever consider that,” Fisher said.

Decertification is viewed by some as the best way to increase the players’ leverage at the bargaining table. By dissolving the union, players gain the right to sue the league under antitrust laws and perhaps secure an injunction to end the lockout. It is also considered a risky and expensive legal gambit, one that could take months or even years to resolve. Fisher referred to decertification as a “drastic move that leaves every player without pensions, without health care” and without the legal protections of the union.

Decertifying would also force the union to withdraw the unfair-labor practice charge that it filed with the National Labor Relations Board last spring. A ruling on that charge is expected soon. If the board decides in the union’s favor, it could give the players the leverage they are seeking, without dissolving their union.

Somewhere between 50 and 70 NBA players are expected to attend today’s crucial labor meeting. It remains to be seen if they can maintain a unified front in their battle against team owners.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • riggs

    the player’s union has absolutely no leverage other than holding out on playing, which doesn’t even matter to the owners at this point. Decertification should be done and derek fisher should be talking to the agents on ways to get the upper hand on the league, agents are freaking sharks and are looking for the players best interest because it lines their pockets.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    So if the Union did decertify, what would be their bargaining weapon? As of now, it seems like players have very little to hold over owners besides not playing. The owners seem prepared for this. I suppose the Union should wait until the court decision on unfair labor practices to consider decertification, but then what? I see no benefits to having a Union but honestly, what would decertification really change in terms of negotiating power?

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Hearing “or even years to resolve” doesn’t sit well…

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Agents are looking out for the best interests of some players.
    The union is charged with looking out for the best interests of most players.
    If they decertify the weapon is the threat of filing an antitrust lawsuit. That really isn’t that big of threat because from what it looked like when the NFL players decertified, the courts were leaning towards siding with the owners. But, if you eliminate the union, individual players can sign deals and teams can fill out rosters as they please. I believe that’s the ulterior motive here. With a union, the League must bargain collectively. Without one, certain players can convince the owners to give them certain deals, which would them put pressure on the other more replaceable players to sign.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Thanks Allen. So it sounds like decertification would greatly benefit the marquee players but would ultimately hurt the lower end players in the league if I’m reading correctly. I know about the anti-trust law suit but that just seems like it would be unsuccessful. Out of curiosity Allen, what do you favor and why?

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  • bull22

    i called it right from the onset that not all players are on board with losing the season and neither are their agents. if the NBA and players know what is good for themself, there will be no lockout… both parties benefit too much for a season to be lost over a bunch of fools who have already gotten their monies.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I favor whatever can get the best deal for the most players. Decertification, if handled properly, might result in that. I just don’t trust agents very much, and from what I’ve read, many of them don’t really care about the best possible deal for everyone.
    The fact that the head of the biggest agent firm in the League was seen being all chummy with Stern’s right hand man makes me suspicious.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    I agree with you Allen. But I worry that decertification, while it would make negotiation easier, would only really benefit the top 5% or so of players. Is it worth ending the lockout to benefit the top while giving the average NBA player a bad deal? Cause that’s what it seems like decertification could do (I did a bit more research). Then again, the strategy of the Union currently is simply ineffective because, ironically, the players aren’t united in what they want.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I think the players are fairly united with the union. There representatives are not.


    they shouldn’t decertify the union just to please the like of Kobe Lewis Arenas and Jo Jonhson. Those guys are gonna make a killing on payroll this season and their agents are laughing straight to the bank. I’ll take common good for the league any day

  • Clownfish31

    “drastic move that leaves every player without pensions, without health care” … ok, so, listen, manage your millions of dollars properly instead of whining about pensions. That is the reality of millions of Americans today.

  • LA Huey

    ^Most employed/retired wealthy folk have/had pensions and health care plans with their (former) employers. It sucks for the millions that can’t afford it but that’s the reality.

  • Allenp

    Most government employees at every level have this things.