Tag:decertification
Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Are agents organizing a decertification coup?

By Matt Moore

An ESPN report early Wednesday morning indicates that some of the NBA's most powerful agents are aggressively pushing their clients toward the nuclear option of decertification in the face of a lack of progress in the CBA talks. 
Arn Tellem, Bill Duffy, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan -- who collectively represent nearly one-third of the league's players -- spoke Monday about the process of decertifying the union, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The agents' view is that the owners currently have most, if not all, of the leverage in these talks and that something needs to be done to turn the tide. They believe decertification will do the trick, creating uncertainty and wresting control away from the owners.

The union has been negotiating with the league for a year and a half and the owners haven't changed their stance, so the conversation the agents had was about how to work with the union to enhance its strategy," a person close to the situation said on condition of anonymity. "The feeling is that decertification is the weapon that has to be pulled out of the arsenal, that it's the most effective way to change the dynamics of the negotiations."The agents have spoken with Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players association, about the need for decertification, but he has thus far resisted their plan. He said Tuesday that the players are not yet considering decertifying.
via Sources: NBA player agents angling to get players union to decertify - ESPN.

The more interesting element regarding those specific agents is their representation makes up the exact percentage necessary to force what's called an involuntary decertification, in which 30 percent of the union signs a petition saying it supports decertification. If that's the path they take, it's a contentious power move that could have serious implications for the union and the talks.

Union head Billy Hunter has been adamant about avoiding decertification. There are conflicting theories as to the reason why Hunter hasn't pursued the aggressive legal action. Hunter claims that the objective is to avoid a prolonged legal battle which will do nothing but embitter both sides to the cause. The longer a lockout is extended, it's believed the union loses more leverage. The alternative theory is that Hunter is concerned about the possible impact on his standing with the players, and the chance that when the decertification ends and the union reforms, Hunter would not be placed back at executive director. 

Multiple reports have placed players' representatives as frustrated with Hunter's approach, believing there isn't a cohesive strategy to "bust" the union.  The ESPN report also states that a signficant number of agents are against decertification, including Happy Walters and Rob Pelinka (who represents Kobe Bryant). The result could be an internal fracture within the players' union over whether to dissolve the union. This on the heels of a five-hour negotiation Tuesday in which the owners huddled amongst themselves for three hours, in what was believed to be a sign of internal strife in the owners contingent fully forms this as a four-sided issue. Players who want decertification (or at least players whose agents want to decertify) versus those who stand with Hunter versus owners who want a resolution to the lockout versus those who want to lose the season to get every single thing they want. 

David Stern said yesterday after the talks that the internal ownership conversation centered around revenue sharing

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that yesterday's talks actually represent a move towards ending the lockout with the players agreeing to a lowered BRI split to 54.3 percent.  So now the question becomes whether the "dove" owners will be able to wrestle control from the "hawk" owners to broker a deal before the agent insurgency in the union moves towards involuntary decertification, or Hunter is forced to move there himself to consolidate his power. 

The lockout is complicated enough, with the issues and conflicting facts. And every day it becomes even more so as both sides divide amongst themselves.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 6:23 pm
 

'Involuntary' decertification a possibility?

Posted by Royce Young

Billy Hunter was pretty clear the day after the NBA lockout started: The union has no plans o decertify. But there could be a different play in the cards. According to NBA.com, even if the union doesn't want to decertify, there could be an interesting way around it.
A source with knowledge of the meeting indicated that the idea of 'involuntary' decertification did come up; basically, a decertification that woud take place over Hunter's objections. That would require 30 percent of the union's players to sign a petition requesting a vote of the full membership to decertify. That vote would take place at satellite offices of the National Labor Relations Board across the country. A simple majority of the union membership would cause the dissolution of the body.

So why would a group of agents be pushing for this? If the union were to decertify, they could sue on antitrust grounds. But what's the reasoning? Leverage. It's always about who has the upper hand. It would be a blow to the owners having a legal battle on their hands with the potential to lose a lot of money in damages.

The risk though for players is potentially voiding contracts though.

As far as the $4 billion goes, the league’s contention that the contracts would disappear is true only to a point. At some point, the league will reach a deal with the union, and would almost certainly have to reinstate the players’ contracts once the union recertified. The alternative would be either implementing work rules on the players without a deal, which would leave the league vulnerable to a potential players’ strike, or additional antitrust penalties if players sought redress while they continued to play under the imposed rules.

At any rate, the agents do not believe that the league would actually go ahead and void all of those contracts. Such a move could, at least theoretically, make every player in the league a free agent, able to go wherever they wanted. And owners like, say, Miami’s Micky Arison, might have a problem with that.

Hunter has avoided even mentioning decertification and David Stern even went as far to call it the "nuclear option." With as slow and painful as the NFL's situation went with decertification playing a part in it, it's not that attractive an option.

And don't think decertification is a good thing if you're hoping for a full 2011-12 season. It would set stuff back. That's why it's a good sign that Hunter wants to avoid it. Instead of strong-arm negotiating tactics, by all appearances Hunter just wants to get to bargaining. Decertifying would mean that another battle would begin on top of the already painful CBA negotiations.

Let's hope the option stays nuclear. But it's on the table regardless, even if it's not being approach in the traditional circumstances.

Posted on: December 13, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 5:06 pm
 

Union organizes by moving to dissolve itself

Posted by Matt Moore

It sounds worse than it is, really. In reality, the players' decision to decertify the union is nothing more than a move to put the guns in a row for the upcoming battle: Lockout 2011, coming this summer to a vacant theater near you. But it's noteworthy that the union very much knows what it's doing and is following protocol. From the Dallas Business Journal :
NBA players have begun the process of authorizing the decertification of the National Basketball Players Association, a move meant as a countermeasure if the league locks out players when the collective-bargaining agreement expires in June, sources said.

Players for at least two NBA clubs have voted unanimously to authorize decertification after meeting with NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, sources said. Hunter is asking players at each club to vote to allow the union to disband, or decertify, as he makes his annual fall tour of locker rooms.
via NBA clubs vote on decertification | Dallas Business Journal .

So why is the union dissolving itself in the middle of the biggest fight as a union in ten years? Simple: lawsuits. By decertifying the union, the group becomes a trade organization. Which means that should the owners lock them out, they can then sue with a claim that the owners are conducting a group boycott, which is illegal under antitrust laws.

Which would inevitably lead to the league arguing that the decertification is a sham (it is), and that the players don't really want to decertify themselves as a union (they don't). But the union, now a trade organziation, would make every effort to convince them otherwise and leave that avenue open to pursuit.

At some point down this road basketball will be played again. But in the meantime, I'd ejoy the next seven months if I were you. It's all we're going to have for a while.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com