Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins said that the franchise "will begin furloughing employees next week" if the NFL and NFLPA do not reach a new CBA, according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Employees will be told that they "must take a one-week, unpaid absence every month until a new CBA is signed." The Jets' plan, which has been "in place now for a few months," will affect every business operations employee, including Higgins. He said that the team's "football operations unit will act to cut" 25% from its budget. Kaplan notes it is "more complicated for that group to furlough because it needs full staffing before the April draft." The Jets have "roughly 158 employees, 96 on the business side and the remainder on the football side." Higgins noted that a benefit of furloughing is that the employees "can file for unemployment benefits while keeping their jobs." He added that if no games are lost to a work stoppage, Jets Owner Woody Johnson is "committed to reimbursing the employees for their lost income." Sources indicated that the league in the last several months has polled teams on plans in the event of a work stoppage, "asking them to check off on a questionnaire if they planned furloughs, layoffs, salary reductions or other moves" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/21 issue).
PREVENT DEFENSE: Higgins yesterday said that the Jets "simply are taking the proper steps to cover all their bases with a lockout looming." He contends that "going about it this way provides the best long-term solution." Higgins: "Although we fully expect an agreement to be reached, it just makes sense to plan for the worst, and this plan is about shared sacrifice across the organization to get through a period of uncertainty." On Long Island, Roderick Boone reports it does not appear that the Giants have a "similar contingency plan in place." While they are "not commenting publicly on what they would do in the event of a lockout, at this point the Giants don't seem to be planning any furloughs or staff cuts" (NEWSDAY, 2/22). In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the Jets "laid off 30 employees -- most of them involved in sales of personal seat licenses -- shortly after the season, and two years ago, when the economy slumped, business-side employees had to take two weeks of unpaid leave to avoid job cuts" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/22).