NHL Labor: De-certification vote starts today

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There were no negotiations between officials of the NHL and its Players' Association Saturday and, thus, no progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

But the process of determining whether the NHLPA will file a disclaimer of interest -- essentially, to stop representing its members -- will begin moving forward today.

This will be the first of five days of voting by NHLPA members, who are charged with deciding whether to give the union's executive board clearance to make that move, should it deem doing so appropriate. If the executive board receives permission from at least two-thirds of the voters, it will have until Jan. 2 to carry through with it.

The NHL seemed to be anticipating such a move, filing a lawsuit Friday in New York seeking to have "the ongoing legality of the lockout" that has shut down the league for the past three months reaffirmed.

In its 43-page filing, the league asked that all current contracts be deemed "void and unenforceable" if the legality of the lockout is not upheld because those deals were negotiated under terms established by the NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining process.

The NHL also filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, contending that the NHLPA's threat to file a disclaimer of interest constitutes "an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process" because it is strictly a negotiating ploy.

The union issued a statement calling the NHL's position "completely without merit," but has yet to file any sort of legal response.

If that happens, which seems certain, the NHLPA is expected to do so in Minnesota or California, both of which have courts with a reputation for being labor-friendly. The NHL presumably chose New York because courts there have a history of being sympathetic to management.

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