Will Canadian Law Save the NBA Referees?



When the season soon begins, East Bay fans of the Golden State Warriors are looking forward to seeing the sweet stroke of their first round draft choice Steve Curry. But a labor dispute between the referees and the league could complicate things.

Contract negotiations between NBA referees and their employer, the league, have broken down over money, in what is probably the first of many such Great Recession disputes in professional sports. It looks likely that the NBA will "lock out" the referees and try to use replacement referees, formerly known as scabs. Oakland's Jack London, you might remember, wrote that "angels weep in heaven" when scabs walk down the street.

But, according to Canadian law professor David Doorey, the presence of a team in Canada, the Toronto Raptors, may limit the NBA's options. The Canadian labor law that covers the Raptors contains stout protections for workers, protections that are missing in American labor law. The protections require the completion of a conciliation process run by their Ministry of Labour before any lock out, Doorey says, a process that the NBA has not begun.

So, due to the presence of the Toronto Raptors in the league, the desire of the NBA to completely scab the games will be stymied in Canada, setting up a very complicated situation for the league as a whole. Using NBA referees in Canada and replacement referees in Oracle Arena and the other American venues would be tough.

Stay tuned sports fans.