Monday, October 13, 2008

Hockey Fight Breaks Out Off The Ice

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the ...Image via WikipediaHockey is often known as the game where someone went to see a fight and a hockey game accidentally started. In recent weeks, some professional hockey players have been engaged in a different type of fight off the ice.

According to an article by Liz Mullen in her column Labor & Agents in SportsBusiness Journal, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association is seeking an injunction from the National Labor Relations Board. The section 10(j) injunction is the same type of legal relief that the MLB Players Association was granted more than a decade ago, ending the 1994-95 baseball strike.

Earlier this month, the PHPA filed an unfair practices charge against the Central Hockey League, alleging among other things that the league threatened to fire players and take away their team-provided housing if they participated in a recently ended strike. The PHPA, which organized the CHL players in April, had called a strike Sept. 30, but ended it Oct. 5.

The NLRB charge, filed Oct. 3, asked for injunctive relief under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act.

“Section 10(j) is a very special provision of the National Labor Relations Act,” said Bill Gould, who was chairman of the NLRB under President Clinton. “It authorizes the NLRB to go directly into federal district court and obtain an injunction against unfair labor practice conduct to preserve the status quo.”

Gould noted that before even considering such relief, the NLRB will conduct an investigation to determine whether the allegations have merit.

Gould said that under Clinton the NLRB frequently sought this type of relief but that, under the current board appointed by President Bush, that is not the case. “It is fairly unusual for this board to seek this kind of relief,” he said.

CHL Commissioner Duane Lewis said last week that he was puzzled by the charge. “We don’t know what they are referring to, and neither do our attorneys,” he said.

Lewis said the union-called strike, which was initiated as the players were reporting to training camp, was failing on its own accord.

Dan Grigsby, attorney with Los Angeles law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro, who serves as outside counsel to the Los Angeles Lakers and was general counsel of the former West Coast Hockey League, said he thinks the union is requesting an injunction because players are crossing the line.

If the union obtains an injunction “suddenly the power swings back to the union,” Grigsby said. “It’s either a very strong move or a desperate act.”

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1 comment:

  1. Good article. I am a former Board Agent with the National Labor Relations Board and I will tell you that the Board rarely grants 10(j) relief. The Board will be extra careful with this matter because it is more high profile than the normal charges that are filed. I actually agree with the statement made by Dan Grigsby. The union is likely looking for 10(j) because it is trying to maintain some credibility with the players, while maintaining their power base.


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