NBA files for unfair labor practices against players association

The NBA Players Association and owners met for the first time since the lockout August 1st, and hope to meet two or three more times before the end of the month. Despite that, little if any progress has been made.

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NBA Lockout Update: Tough Talk From Both Sides

David Stern and Billy Hunter are taking their fight to the media a month into the lockout. Thus far, Stern has the upper hand.

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NBA files for unfair labor practices against players association

Yesterday David Stern stated he did not believe the Players Association was bargaining in good faith, and today he went a step further, as the NBA filed an unfair labor practice claim to the National Labor Relations Board, as well as a lawsuit in federal court.

This is in response to the threats from the Players Association about decertification, and to establish that the lockout does not violate antitrust laws.

"These claims were filed in an effort to eliminate the use of impermissible pressure tactics by the union which are impeding the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement," said Adam Silver, Deputy Commissioner of the NBA. "For the parties to reach agreement on a new CBA, the union must commit to the collective bargaining process fully and in good faith."

Should the NLRB side with the owners, existing player contracts could be null and void if the Players Association does pursue decertification.  As of yesterday, Derek Fisher, the president of the National Basketball Players Association, stated that they are not currently going to press forward with decertification.

Later in the day, the Players Association released the following statement, per Sports Illustrated:

"The litigation tactics of the NBA today are just another example of their bad faith bargaining and we will seek the complete dismissal of the actions as they are totally without merit. The NBA Players Association has not made any decision to disclaim its role as the collective bargaining representative of the players and has been engaged in good faith bargaining with the NBA for over two years. We urge the NBA to engage with us at the bargaining table and to use more productively the short time we have left before the 2011-12 season is seriously jeopardized."

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Little progress made in NBA labor meetings

The NBA and the players union met for the first time since the lockout begin today, with reportedly little progress being made.

While it doesn't appear the players union is certain to pursue decertification, the sides are beginning to get fairly combative.   According to Ken Berger of CBS, when asked whether the players are bargaining in good faith, Stern replied, "I would say not".  Immediately before that he claimed that the meeting left him pessimistic.

On the players side, Derek Fisher said afterwards that "where their proposal lies makes it hard to believe [they have a desire to get a deal done]". 

The positive, if you could call it that, is that the players are hoping to meet later this month, preferably on two or three consecutive days.

Clearly, this wasn't an issue that was going to be solved with one three hour bargaining session, particularly this early in the game with no legal or financial pressure on either side.  Still, some of the harsh words, particularly those coming from Stern, don't give a lot of faith that this will be resolved in a timely manner.  Perhaps those three meetings later in the month, if they come to fruition, will provide some progress, but I wouldn't expect progress until regular season games are in doubt.  And, if the 1998 lockout is any indication, it could be much longer than that until real concessions are made.

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NBA owners, players scheduled to meet

As reported by Tom Ziller, the NBA Players Union and the owners are working on putting together the first bargaining session since the lockout began.  According to ESPN, this meeting could be held as early as Monday, August 1st.

Players are currently guaranteed 57% of total Basketball Related Income, a figure that owners are looking to cut considerably, among numerous other concessions.  Before the lockout ended the players offered to cut that number down to 54.6 percent.

While getting the key players on both sides in the same room talking is a step in the right direction, the overall outlook is still bleak.  The players agents have recently talked about  decertification, a move designed to put pressure on the league.  The two sides similarly held their first session in early August during the 1998 lockout, which lasted until an agreement was reached on January 6th, one day before David Stern's recommended deadline to save the 1998-1999 season.

The 2010-2011 season was the first year during the previous CBA's 6 year run where player salaries did not meet the minimum of 57% of total Basketball Related Income, resulting in the owners having to pay the players $188 million, $162 million that was held in escrow plus an additional $26 million.  Despite that, the league is claiming 22 out of 30 teams lost money over the last two years.

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