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NBA players file claim with NLRB about 'unfair' league negotiating

May 24, 2011 |  2:07 pm

Photo: Billy Hunter, left, and NBA Commissioner David Stern during labor negotiations in 2005. Credit: Joe Cavaretta / Associated Press. NBA players Tuesday filed an unfair labor practices claim against the league with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the league is “making harsh, inflexible and grossly regressive ‘takeaway’ demands … not supported by objective or reasonable factors or balanced by appropriate trade-offs.”

In a news release, the National Basketball Players’ Assn. said it’s seeking an immediate investigation by the NLRB, along with an injunction to stop the league’s threatened lockout of players when the current collective-bargaining agreement expires June 30.

The union claims the NBA has engaged in “unlawful practices,” including “failing to bargain in good faith, demanding huge financial takeaways from prior contracts, with no corresponding concessions offered to the players … and bypassing the union to deal directly with players.” 

In a prepared statement delivered by email Tuesday, a league spokesman wrote: "There is no merit to the charge filed [Tuesday] by the Players Association with the National Labor Relations Board, as we have complied -- and will continue to comply -- with all of our obligations under the federal labor laws. It will not distract us from our efforts to negotiate in good faith a new collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association."

Earlier this month, a memo by union head Billy Hunter to players reported the league is seeking to establish a hard salary cap that would be a 22% reduction from the current $58-million figure.

The union argued in its NLRB claim that the league has engaged in “classic ‘take it or leave it’ bargaining … intended to delay action on a renewal CBA until the NBA locks out the … employees in order to coerce them into accepting the NBA’s harsh and regressive demands.” 

Players also claim the league has exhibited “hostility” to a fair bargaining process, leaving the players to assess that back-and-forth exchanges are “futile.” 

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-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Billy Hunter, left, and NBA Commissioner David Stern during labor negotiations in 2005. Credit: Joe Cavaretta / Associated Press.

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