CHLPA Seeks Certification

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CHLPA Seeks Certification October 24, 2012 8:00 AM

They haven’t given up, and they certainly arent going awya. The Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association is hopping that one or two more pieces fall into place on the way to labor certification in the province of Alberta. The first provice to hear the CHLPA’s arguments.

Tuesday an administrative panel reviewed the CHLPA’s submission to waive a 60-day wait period from the time of recognition as a trade union, which occured October 5th, to the actual filing of a certification application.

Written submissions from both the CHLPA’s Alberta arm, CHLPA-Local 99 –which was formed September 1st to represent players from the province’s five Western Hockey League clubs – and the WHL, were reviewed in private by an administrative panel, which is expected to issue a decision by week’s end. Make no mistake that the "Local 99" was purposefully named in the hope of reminding the ALRB of the national pride associated with the number 99.

The fact that the Western Hockey League actually made a written presentation alone is a win for the CHLPA. The WHL and the two other Major Junior Leagues in Canada have been rather dismissive of the CHLPA up until this point. Forced to respond in writing is in itself an acknowledgement of the CHLPA movement.

In the CHLPA’s submission to the ALRB, written by Vancouver based law firm Victory Square Law Officel, the CHLPA points to a desire to waive the wait period to avoid “disruptive events of an organizing campaign.”

“It is for the furtherance of this very objective that the CHLPA and Local 99 seek the Board’s consent to waive the 60 day time bar, to permit them to file certification applications with the Board rather than prolonging unnecessarily the potential disruptive affects of an ongoing organizing campaign for at least an additional 60 days,” the submission stated.

This fear of retribution from WHL clubs against players engaged in union activities is a central argument behind the CHLPA’s desire to expedite the certification process and was outlined in the submission.

“Team Owners and Coaches determine which players on their team will play or be benched and whether a particular player will be traded or released. These decisions may be made for a legitimate purpose or they may be tainted by anti-union animus.”

It not a surprise that the CHLPA has cited potential intimidation of players in their submission to the ALRB. Reports of WHL clubs breaking up organizing meetings, through intimidation, inuendo and rumor spreading have been reported to TJHN recently. Some players, particularly the younger ones TJHN has heard from are fearful that team owners, coaches or other administrators may sit them or trade them should they be open with their thought on joining the CHLPA.

Forming a Union is never an easy thing. Forcing Business Owners to bargain with Employees when those owners may not want to bargain has been complicated throughout the course of history. The timing of this particular labour fight is concerning as we watch the NHL and NHLPA go through the current lockout.

Although the ALRB may not waive the 60 day period, TJHN sources in Calgary have said they do expect the CHLPA to eventually get certification. Once certified in Alberta, the process will be replicated across Canada. It becomes more complicated when they attempt to certify in the United States. How long the process takes is another question, it could take a year or two or more according to some Canadian Legal experts.

In the mean time, what about the players? Can the CHLPA make the changes they desire to be retroactive to some poiint if players age out of Major Junior before the CHLPA is completely certified?

Where is the money coming from to fund the organization now? Where will the funding come from in the future?

Many questions still left to be answered, but clearly the CHLPA is not backing down.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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