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09-26-2003, 06:05 PM
David A. Rainer
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Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
Hope this explanation flies. If so, hope this explanation clarifies.

That's kind of what I was saying, but your's is a better explanation.

Let me see if I can put it in chart form:

1.) If multiple entities and no union: anti-trust law governs any attempt at restriction while labor law protects labor's right to organize.
2.) If multiple entities and union: labor law governs the CBA and the bargaining process while anti-trust law governs whatever restriction is not in the CBA.
3.) If single entity and no union: free to restrict so long as within the confines of employment regulations (e.g. minimum wage, max hours, etc.)
4.) If single entity and union: only labor law governs restrictions within the CBA and employment regulations set minimum standards whether within the CBA or not.

But either way, the issue is whether the merger restricts competition (in whatever market you want to define). This is purely an anti-trust law standard (I know of no standard in labor law that asks whether an action restricts competition) and I have to believe that that issue must resolved by anti-trust law. It would seem odd to resolve an anti-trust law standard using labor law. Once that issue is resolved, then it moves into the labor law realm (but only because the NHL players are unionized).

Agreed, the most effective set-up is a single entity with no union (as the MLS is) and that could only occur for the NHL if the NHLPA de-certs (which we know it won't, except only to form a new league but then if they form a new league, what difference does it make for the NHL - they just lost all their players). However, there are still advantages to being a single entity even with a union (just not as much). Using my chart above, if it is a single entity and there is a union (as the NHL would likely be), they are governed by labor law (and of course always must meet the minimum requirements of employment regulations). But it has effectively sheded the weight of anti-trust law (not a complete victory, but at least management was able to get one of the two sets of laws off its' back).

It's really just a mish-mesh of which body of laws has the authority to do what. Since this has never happened in a sports setting (and I know of no example where it has happened in other settings), I don't think anyone really knows for sure how something like this would come out. Which is probably why no one wants to try.

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