NLRB: Case has prominence, could set precedent

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The NHL's complaints to the National Labor
Relations Board, accusing the players' association of threatening
to decertify agents for representing replacement players, have been
forwarded to the board's legal counsel.

That decision was made this week because the case has national
prominence and could set a precedent in labor matters outside of
hockey, Elbert Tellem said Thursday. Tellem is the assistant to the
director of the board's New York City regional office, where the
NHL filed two complaints in April.

Those are now in the hands of the board's legal counsel, which
will review the charges and provide direction on how the board
should proceed.

Without providing a timetable, Tellem expected the attorneys to
move quickly because of the importance of the case.

The board will proceed as the NHL is close to reaching a deal
with the NHL Players' Association to settle a labor dispute that
wiped out all of last season.

NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said Thursday that while talks
are progressing, no agreement has been reached.

"Both parties are continuing to take steps necessary to
preserve and protect their rights. … The charge is in the hands
of the NLRB," Daly said.

The NHLPA declined comment while the matter is under review by
the NLRB.

In its complaints, the NHL accused the players' association of
violating two sections of the National Labor Relations Act, arguing
the threats constitute an unlawful boycott by pressuring agents to
cease doing business with an employer involved in a labor dispute.

The NHL has the option of using replacement players next season
if the lockout continues. The league has backed off that threat,
saying next season won't begin on time if a deal isn't reached with
the players.

Last month, the British Columbia Labor Relations Board ruled
that the players' association can proceed with its application to
have the union certified. The province's labor code bars the use of
replacement employees during a lockout or strike.