Union applying for certification in Quebec, B.C.
The NHL Players' Association applied for union certification in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia to prevent the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks from using replacement players at home during the hockey lockout.
Employees in Quebec and British Columbia can't be replaced during a lockout or strike that is governed by the provincial labor code. The players' association wants to establish itself in those provinces as a certified union under the provincial labor codes.
"The NHLPA can confirm that it has applied for certification as a labor union in Quebec, and that the British Columbia chapter of the NHLPA has applied for certification in British Columbia," spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said Thursday. "We will not be commenting further while the administrative processes are under way."
The NHL, which has filed two charges against the players' association in the United States with the National Labor Relations Board, said the union's actions are out of line.
"We believe these petitions are inconsistent with both the history and the reality of collective bargaining in this industry, and that the NHLPA's act of filing the petitions is inappropriate and in violation of its obligations under applicable labor legislation in the United States and Canada," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said. "Obviously, we will take appropriate steps to preserve and protect our rights.
"Ultimately, these filings will have no impact on the league's business alternatives going forward."
So far, the NHL hasn't said it would use replacement players next season should the lockout that wiped out this hockey year continue.
The British Columbia labor relations board will hold a hearing on May 3, regarding the application filed in that province. The NHL and the Canucks will have the opportunity then to file any objections should they decide to do so.
"Our intentions will become clear in due course," Daly told The Associated Press.
Without resistance, the certification could be granted within a few weeks.
The Canadiens and Canucks wouldn't be allowed to use replacements at home if the NHLPA becomes a certified union in Quebec and British Columbia. If the teams tried to play their home games elsewhere, they would likely face charges of unfair labor practices.
At the conclusion of last week's board of governors meeting, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the season won't start on time in October if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached with the players' association.
That would eliminate the possible use of replacement players, at least as a means of beginning the season on schedule.
The sides have tentative plans to resume labor negotiations next Thursday and Friday, but there is a potential scheduling conflict that could eliminate Thursday as a meeting date.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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