As Sides Drift Apart, Nba Lockout More Likely
The NBA drew closer to a player lockout while union leaders went back to commissioner David Stern on Thursday and dissident players began a new legal attack.
“I really think that tomorrow at midnight we’ll have our first work stoppage in the NBA, barring unforeseen developments,” Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller told KISN radio in Salt Lake City.
Stern and union head Simon Gourdine met for 4 hours. The lawyer for players trying to decertify the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the league in an effort to stop bargaining.
Meanwhile, the head of the National Labor Relations Board’s New York office said the agency may seek an injunction to stop the antitrust suit filed Wednesday in Minneapolis federal court by Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and five others.
The no-lockout, no-strike deal agreed to last Oct. 27 expires Saturday, and owners appear ready to lock out the players. Stern had no comment.
Gourdine, union president Buck Williams and seven other players met for 4 hours with NBA officials, the first talks since last Friday, when the union’s executive board refused to ratify the deal Gourdine and Stern agreed to two days earlier.
Under the proposed six-year deal, teams who go over their salary cap by re-signing players would have to pay a luxury tax of 50 percent on the amount over the cap next season and 100 percent after that. The star players and their agents think the tax would slow the rise in salaries.
To stop the deal, the dissidents began the legal process of decertifying the NBA Players Association and shifting the fight to an antitrust suit. Jeffrey Kessler, lawyer for the dissidents, claims 180 of the league’s 324 players support his side.
Kessler says that because a majority of players have renounced the union, bargaining must cease. He filed the unfair labor practice charge because the league met with union leaders on Thursday.
The NLRB scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the decertification petition. Daniel Silverman, the NLRB’s New York regional director, will then determine whether to schedule an election.
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