NBA Refs Claim League Engaging in Unfair Labor Practices

The National Basketball Referee’s Association has filed charges to the National Labor Relations Board, adding a new wrinkle to already contentious CBA negotiations between the NBA, its players and other employees. Yahoo! reports: “The charges were outlined in a series of several memos distributed to the NBA’s 60 referees and details what the NBRA describes as ‘the league’s refusal to negotiate with the union concerning non-economic issues.’ The league’s collective bargaining agreement with its referees expires Sept. 1. The NBA is primarily engaged in a higher-profile labor fight with the players, with a June 30 deadline looming to avoid a work stoppage. The referees’ union has hired an experienced labor and employment attorney, Lee Seham, to take over the talks with the NBA. The union has met three times with the NBA – including most recently on March 31 – and says the NBA hasn’t responded to any of its proposals. Seham’s first order of business, according to the memos, had been to find non-economic deal points for the union and the league to agree upon, he reported to his referees. Those include such issues as weight and fitness restrictions, travel issues and anti-discrimination based on race, sex and union activity. The memo and filing to the National Labor Relations Board also includes details of an alleged ‘obscene expression’ by commissioner David Stern directed at union negotiators in a Jan. 24 meeting, referee sources said. According to the memo, Stern – referred to as ‘one of the league’s negotiators’ – got angry when the union attorneys sought to include what the union called ‘standard language found in many collective bargaining agreements’ on discrimination. ‘One of the league’s negotiators reacted to it with hostility and resorted to the use of an obscene expression in describing its effect,’ the memo said. ‘When the NRBA representatives declined his demand to delete the obscene expression from their notes, this negotiator abruptly left the room.'”