NLRB: Case has prominence, could set precedent

Updated: June 30, 2005, 8:55 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The NHL's complaints to the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the players' association of threatening to decertify agents for representing replacement players, have been forwarded to the board's legal counsel.

That decision was made this week because the case has national prominence and could set a precedent in labor matters outside of hockey, Elbert Tellem said Thursday. Tellem is the assistant to the director of the board's New York City regional office, where the NHL filed two complaints in April.

Those are now in the hands of the board's legal counsel, which will review the charges and provide direction on how the board should proceed.

Without providing a timetable, Tellem expected the attorneys to move quickly because of the importance of the case.

The board will proceed as the NHL is close to reaching a deal with the NHL Players' Association to settle a labor dispute that wiped out all of last season.

NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said Thursday that while talks are progressing, no agreement has been reached.

"Both parties are continuing to take steps necessary to preserve and protect their rights. … The charge is in the hands of the NLRB," Daly said.

The NHLPA declined comment while the matter is under review by the NLRB.

In its complaints, the NHL accused the players' association of violating two sections of the National Labor Relations Act, arguing the threats constitute an unlawful boycott by pressuring agents to cease doing business with an employer involved in a labor dispute.

The NHL has the option of using replacement players next season if the lockout continues. The league has backed off that threat, saying next season won't begin on time if a deal isn't reached with the players.

Last month, the British Columbia Labor Relations Board ruled that the players' association can proceed with its application to have the union certified. The province's labor code bars the use of replacement employees during a lockout or strike.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press