As the impasse continues between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association, there have been no face-to-face talks between the two sides since the first day of September.
According to a recent memo from the NFL Referees Association negotiating committee to its membership obtained by The Baltimore Sun, no deal is in sight.
Which means, of course, that the replacement referees, who have drawn wide criticism for their struggles to keep up with the speed of the game and their lack of knowledge and implementation of the NFL rulebook, are here to say for the indefinite future.
Here's a full text of the memo:
To: NFLRA On-field Members
From: NFLRA Negotiating Committee
Let’s first acknowledge that whether we are working under game pressures on the field or the negotiating pressures of constructing a new CBA, we do the same thing – remain calm even in the face of adversity. We are not focused on "winning" but are committed to doing what is right and fair.
So, let’s recap where we are. There are basic differences in what the NFL and NFLRA see as fair on three issues: (1) overall compensation; (2) administrative issues (e.g. dispute arbitration, personal conduct policy, additional officials, etc); and (3) retirement benefits.
Our position has been from the beginning, and dovetails with what the League told us in the beginning -- that the 2006 CBA negotiations were fair, and should be used by both sides as a framework for completing a new CBA without incurring labor disputes. The key elements of our mutually agreed upon CBA in 2006 included the following:
* Overall officiating compensation (excluding retirement benefits) was $12.5 million in 2005. In 2011, it was $18.6 million, an increase of about $1 million per year since 2005.
* The 2006 CBA contained provisions that the NFL could hire additional officials (above 120), provided the League added proportionally to the overall compensation pool for each official added (they’ve done this – the staff is at 121 right now).
*The 401(k) benefit plan for officials (in effect since 1994) would continue with a League match of up to $3,750 per year per official (unchanged from 2001).
* The defined benefit (DB) pension (in effect since 1974) amount was increased by $65 per month for each year of an official’s service, capping at a maximum of 20 years, a reduction from the 22-years maximum specified originally in 1974.
We have been negotiating with the League since October 2011. The last face-to-face meeting was held on Saturday, September 1, and resulted in the following exchange:
* The NFL offered to add $1 million per year over a 7-year term to total compensation (including retirement benefits)
IF the NFLRA would agree to freeze and terminate the existing DB pension plan and move immediately to their proposed 401(k) type defined contribution (DC) plan.
*The NFLRA countered by offering to reduce by $1 million the overall compensation (excluding retirement benefits) "ask" over a 5-year term
IF the League would negotiate its retirement benefits demand and other issues.
The League refused to discuss our counter-offer; instead, returning to its "take it or leave it" position.
So, how far are we off? Let’s take a look at the numbers to see: