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Volume 24 No. 137
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NFLRA Counsel Says Referees Want More Negotiating Sessions

Locked out NFL referees say no new negotiating sessions are scheduled with the league, though the group wants them to start. Speaking on a midday conference call, NFL Referees Association counsel Michael Arnold said the league’s strategy had been to lock out the refs, which occurred at midnight on June 3 after the CBA expired May 31. The NFLRA contends the league is putting player safety at risk by recruiting replacements, which the group termed “scabs,” for a minimal cost savings.

The referees union's last proposal is $16.5M more over five years than the league’s own, Arnold said. The two sides are also split on pensions, with the league wanting to immediately move all referees to a 401k-type system, while the NFLRA wants existing members to continue receiving pensions. A source familiar with the league’s proposal said it offered a 7-year deal with increases of between 5-11%.

Arnold said the refs, who had been negotiating since October '11, last month offered a proposal that reduced the referees’ demands, but the league took five minutes to reject it. The NFLRA made several speakers available on the call, including current NFL ref Ed Hochuli, who said officiating would be hurt if replacement refs were used. The NFLRA has filed an unfair negotiating charge with the National Labor Relations Board, though Arnold conceded the agency could take awhile with the matter.

The NFL issued a statement saying, "We have negotiated in good faith for the past nine months. We are available to meet with the NFLRA at any time to negotiate a new contract. We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials."