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IT'S BACK TO "WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK" FOR NBA REFS
Published December 5, 1995
By a vote of 27-26, NBA refs agreed to accept the league's final contract offer and ended the lockout the league had imposed on October 1. ESPN charted the salary progress under the new contract: NO EXPERIENCE 20 YEARS+ 1995-96 $75,000 $211,000 2000-01 99,000 278,000 In addition, ESPN's Linda Cohn noted pension payments will now be $2,700 for every year worked, rising to $3,300 by the end of the deal ("SportsCenter," 12/4). According to NBA Senior VP/Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey Mishkin, the refs are expected to be back working "within a week." Mishkin said their raise is a cumulative 60% over the term of the five-year deal, with an 18.6% increase this year followed by annual raises of 6%, 6%, 14 1/2% and 5% in the remaining years. Increases in pension and severance payments were 10% (Mark Asher, WASHINGTON POST, 12/5). GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: ESPN's Keith Olbermann: "They're back, but they're clearly not happy about it" ("SportsCenter," 12/4). CNN's Paul Crane: "The refs don't get all the money they wanted, but do get more than they had" ("Sports Tonight," 12/4). NBRA General Counsel Fred Slaughter: "The rank and file have spoken. My guys are ready to go" (Shaun Powell, NEWSDAY, 12/5). Refs negotiator Mike Mathis: "You could say it was a good-news, bad-news situation if you want to. We're all happy to be going back to work, but there are some veteran officials who feel this deal wasn't very good for them" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/5). HOW CLOSE WAS IT? Several reports note two veteran refs, Jake O'Donnell and Jack Madden, were absent from the Chicago meeting because of illness. In L.A., Mark Heisler calls veteran refs the union's "hard-liners," and 26-year vet Paul Mihalik believes the absences "could have swung the outcome" (L.A. TIMES, 12/5). Slaughter: "If those two members had come, it's no telling what the outcome would have been" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 12/5). Mihalik: "As far as being satisfied with what we got? No. We actually came to a point where we stopped comparing ourselves to people in the other sports because it wasn't a good comparison at times in certain areas. We tried to come up with what was fair and equitable, and evidently the majority felt we had reached that point and we had received what we were going to receive" (ESPN, 12/4). The pension plan is still "at issue" (Melissa Isaacson, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/5).