While we were all talking about the NBA players and owners labor strife, the referees union and league have been negotiating a deal (that deal is set to expire Sept. 1).
And it has some serious tension. Like bring in the National Labor Relations Board tension.
The National Basketball Referee’s Association has filed charges to the National Labor Relations Board contending that the NBA has violated federal laws by engaging in unfair labor practices, Yahoo! Sports has learned….
The memo (sent to NBA referees by the union) and filing to the National Labor Relations Board also includes details of an alleged “obscene expression” by commissioner David Stern directed at union negotiators in a Jan. 24 meeting, referee sources said.
According to the memo, Stern – referred to as “one of the league’s negotiators” – got angry when the union attorneys sought to include what the union called “standard language found in many collective bargaining agreements” on discrimination.
“One of the league’s negotiators reacted to it with hostility and resorted to the use of an obscene expression in describing its effect,” the memo said. “When the NRBA representatives declined his demand to delete the obscene expression from their notes, this negotiator abruptly left the room.”
So we’re clear, David Stern apparently flipped the referees the bird, and that is now in the official meeting notes.
There’s a history of hard fought negotiations between the sides, remember that the 2009 preseason included replacement referees because a deal had not been worked out in time. (And yes, te officiating did get worse.)
All negotiations like this are contentious. Nature of the game. But the league may feel that with a lockout looming it will have more time to hammer out the referee deal as well, so why not take a harder line on some issues?
The real issue may be that right now the league can terminate a referee without cause. That is the kind of power struggle that can drag out in negotiations.
But it looks like this is not going well, either