Even though the NHLPA said they wouldn’t disclose the results of their week-long player vote on allowing its executive board to file a disclaimer of interest, we found out today that the vote was an overwhelming yes. If you’re surprised, you’re in the minority.
This move spits in the face of the complaint the NHL filed with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the PA’s vote means they’re negotiating in bad faith. No, I’m not kidding. Just the thought of disclaiming is being portrayed as not wanting to make a deal. The league has also filed a lawsuit in New York to make the lockout valid and stop the PA from disclaiming, and they say that without a union, they can’t negotiate. That’s both sad and funny because they haven’t really negotiated even with the union present.
What’s really laughable is that buried in the lawsuit is the threat that disclaiming would invalidate over 700 player contracts. If that was a scare tactic designed to make the players think twice about voting for the allowance, it backfired in Gary Bettman’s face like a bad exhaust on a car.
There are a lot of things the PA could do – disclaim now, countersue, use voodoo dolls, have Taylor Swift write a nasty song about Bill Daly (a possible title could be “We Are Never Ever Getting Back To Negotiating Together”). But it’s not enough to just say you’re willing to get back to talking when the other side doesn’t feel like it. If there’s no effort from both parties, there’s no effort, period. So what should happen?
Here’s what the PA should do next: hold off on disclaiming and use that as a last resort. Instead, answer the lawsuit in New York, then hop on the Acela and file their own grievance against the league with the NLRB. They have more evidence of negotiating in bad faith than the league does. When the league stated that they’d lock out players on September 15 if there was no deal, before the PA ever gave them their first counterproposal? Yeah, I’d say that was bad faith, not to mention a terrible way to make them hurry up and finish their counter. The constant attempts to discredit Donald Fehr? Those could be construed as union-busting tactics. I’ve read the National Labor Relations Act (more than I should have), and I’d interpret those actions as violations. Those two examples are the ones that come to mind right away. There are plenty more to be found.
Right now, all we have is legal action on one side and the players’ blessing on the other. We’ve played this waiting game before, and we’ll have to keep on playing. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer.