SBD/Issue 5/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NBA Referees Expecting A Lockout With No CBA Reached

NBA referees "expected a lockout to be 'imminent'" after negotiations between the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) and the league failed to produce a new CBA, according to Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. The NBA and the NBRA "exchanged further counterproposals Thursday, with the union claiming to have made $1[M] in additional financial concessions," but those talks "ended at an impasse." NBRA Exec Dir Lamell McMorris said that there "remained a crucial unresolved dispute over the same retirement benefit issue, relating to severance pay, that caused commissioner David Stern to abruptly end a formal bargaining session nine days earlier." A source said that there were other unresolved issues, including the "use of D-League and WNBA referees in regular-season NBA games, a separate pension issue concerning employer vs. employee contributions to referees' retirement plans, and myriad other comparatively minor dollars-and-cents issues."  Sheridan noted the NBA referees' training camp is set to begin Sunday, but NBA Exec VP & General Counsel Rich Buchanan Thursday said he is "not optimistic" a deal will be reached (ESPN.com, 9/17). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes the NBA is "not ready to make the same proclamation, but it appears highly likely that replacement referees will take the court when the preseason opens in two weeks." McMorris said that the "chances of a deal being struck before the preseason starts were 'less than 50-50.'" Meanwhile, Beck notes another matter in dispute is the NBRA's "claim of making $2.2[M] in concessions," a figure that "apparently includes about $1[M] that will be saved through the retirement of four veteran referees" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). McMorris: "We remain open to continuing the dialogue and trying to come to a resolution with the league. It's not like we're not willing to negotiate. It's just that the talks ended" (NBA.com, 9/17).

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