Monday, June 4, 2012

NFL Fails to Agree With Officials, Seeking Replacements

After a long and contentious lockout with its players at the close of the 2011 season that went throughout the summer, the National Football League has headed for yet another work stoppage. On Monday, the NFL announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with the National Football League Referee's Association (the union that represents all of the League's officials and replay assistants) on a new collective bargaining agreement. The League also announced that it would immediately begin the hiring process and training of replacement officials. This news comes after attempted negotiations Sunday managed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which helped in mediation between the League and its players during last year's lockout. What came out of those meetings certainly was not an agreement, but rather a war of words between the League and the NFLRA.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello made strong allegations against the officials on Monday, claiming that the officials had went back on concessions they previously agreed to make, which included dropping millions of extra dollars from their requests. Aiello also said the the NFLRA had failed to engage in the negotiating process during mediation that it agreed to with the League.

Counsel for the NFLRA, Mike Arnold, has accused the NFL of engaging in bargaining that constituted bad faith. Arnold stated that the NFL had begun the process of recruiting new officials while both sides were at the negotiating table with FMCS. In its statement, the NFLRA had some strong words about the negotiating process by stating that " the NFL's negotiators took fewer than five minutes to review the NFLRA's offer, which requested increases smaller than those the League agreed to in 2006, before walking away from the bargaining table." The statement went on to say "the League never intended to work toward a fair agreement, even through mediation." The NFL countered these claims by stating that it was the union that stopped negotiations from moving forward with its proposal and they only sought replacement officials after the union conveyed they planned to drag out negotiations.

According to the NFL, the mediation process was aiming for a seven year agreement through the 2018 season, which would include salary increases between 5% and 11% for the officials. This would mean a 2011 first-year official that made 78,000 dollars would make 165,000 dollars at the end of the collective bargaining agreement (the official's 8th year in the League). As for a 10 year veteran in 2011, in their 17th year they would make around $200,000, while they made $139,000 in 2011. Additionally, Aiello says that there would be improvements to healthcare coverage and retirement plans would start at $16,500 a year increasing to $23,000.

While talks fell apart, Aiello has said that the League will now begin regional training sessions to find replacement officials in the next month. The League will seek college officials from non-BCS conferences, retired college officials, and possibly officials from other semi-pro and professional football leagues. The League is not seeking BCS officials because those officials are supervised by current NFL referees, so the NFL does not want to put the BCS officials in a difficult situation. Arnold called these officials that the NFL is seeking to hire, "amateur, under qualified referees to administer professional games." Aiello rejected this notion by stating these officials "officiate games at a high level and have backgrounds similar to current NFL officials. We have every confidence that the officials who we bring on will do a fully credible job, and will manage our games efficiently and effectively enforce the playing rules."

In what is seen as not such a surprising move after last year's lockout, the National Football League Player's Association has come out in support of the NFLRA. The NFLPA released a statement Monday stating their concern to "lock out professional referees and recruit scabs" to officiate games this upcoming season. The NFLPA cited the increased responsibility upon officials to manage the health and safety of players, saying that "professional athletes require professional referees, and we believe in the NFL Referees Association's trained first responders."

No additional mediation meetings are scheduled, so the League has clearly moved forward in their hiring process of replacements. On Monday night, NCAA national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding has said that it was his "understanding that some college officials have been contacted about being replacement officials." If an agreement is not reached before the beginning of the regular season, it will be the first time replacement officials were used since Week 1 of the 2011 season (the NFLRA officials returned in Week 2 after the September 11th attacks).

News: NFL to begin hiring, training replacement officials


Anonymous said...

If my are correct: Bill Carollo is Supervisor of Officials for the Big 10, Missouri Valley, and Mid-Amerricn Conferences.

Walt Anderson is the supervisor for the Big 12.

Gerry Austin for the Great Lakes conference.

Terry McAulay for the Big East.

Tony Corrente for the Pac 12 and Big West.

Carl Paganelli the dad of 3 current NFL officials is the supervisor for the Arena League.

I have no idea where they are going to get replacement officials.

Anonymous said...

They'll find someone to scab. Always do. Heck, might even be some of these amateurs on this board. The things I read on here, I wouldn't put it past some of you. You'd call it "living your dream" or some other b.s. Probably the same clowns who scabbed when my brothers and I went on strike in the minor leagues about six years back. Thanks for all your support (that's sarcastic if you couldn't tell). We got hosed back then although it was our own fault and I can't blame it all on scabs, but it was still disheartening to see people we thought were friends "live their dream" at the expense of people just trying to make a fair living. You want to live your dream, earn it! Now even though the NFLers aren't struggling to make a survivable wage like we were and that in itself makes our situations different, I nevertheless wish them better luck than we had as they go up against another greedy, stingy, multi-billion dollar business.

Anonymous said...

I read about and saw that many of those minor league guys went back to local associations and took high school and college games while they were on strike. Where was the brotherhood then when those guys were stealing amateur umpires' games?

Anonymous said...

To work HS and college games there are certain things you have to go through to qualify yourself to work those games. If you have completed those things then you are qualified to work those games and in no way are you stealing them. Anyone who completes these steps and/or pays their dues to be a member of an umpire association, not a union, is qualified to work that baseball. To qualify for professional baseball you must go through a different set of steps. If you do not do this and work during a union stoppage, you are a scab. Simple as that. The only way someone could actually parallel this with crossing the picket line is ignorance. There is no union in amateur baseball. If there was, and if they were on strike, then anyone, professional or otherwise, would be a scab for crossing. That being said, no, I did not go back and work amateur games.

Anonymous said...

To me it's as simple as stealing someone else's games. It's OK when the striking union members do it, but it's not OK for us Charlies to do it. At least I get the double standard.

Will said...

I see where both of you are coming from, I went to pro-school but didn't make it into pro-ball. Went back and worked my butt off for years to get better and am now working very high level amateur and some independent league stuff. There is an amazing umpire who reappeared locally after making it to the majors as a call-up but never got his contract. Will he take high level games that I might have been given if he weren't here? Yes!
Does he deserve those games over me - YES!!!
There's a reason why major league umpires are so much better than the rest of us umpires - I will never claim to be as good as someone who has spent their professional lives devoting themselves to umpiring. They will make mistakes and I hope to learn from them - but they deserve our respect. The type of respect that would prevent me from taking an assignment that is rightfully theirs for any reason other than I earned it.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the protesters calling for the umpiring and officiating unions to be eliminated?

Earn the work and if you're that good, they'll keep hiring you back.

Anonymous said...

Please. These NFL officials do this as a 2nd job. This is not like taking a UAW job, or a low level minor league job. Also, like all officiating, nepotism (not always talent) runs wild. Look how many sons of former refs or former supervisors are in the NFL. A lot of quality people got passed up so those with connections could move up. From there, time and experience are the great teachers.

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