The NFL Goes Back To Work: Several Teams Reimburse Employees For Lockout Pay Cuts
Jets Owner Woody Johnson told team employees that their "missed pay during the lockout was credited to their accounts" yesterday morning, according to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Jets coaches "took a 25 percent pay cut during the lockout, and business-side employees took one week" of furloughs per each month, "with the promise the pay would be refunded if no games were missed." Two employees said that the missed pay was returned "without interest" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/26). Johnson "thanked everyone for their support and patience during the work stoppage." Meanwhile, coach Rex Ryan left a voicemail for season-ticket holders yesterday (N.Y. POST, 7/26).
FALCONS: In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz reported Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, who "instituted across-the-board payroll cuts to all non-player employees in the team’s office in the form of two-week furloughs, will reimburse wages." Blank yesterday sent an e-mail to staff members that read in part, "Any deductions to your paychecks during the lockout related to unpaid vacation days we instituted will be repaid to you." Falcons President Rich McKay and GM Thomas Dimitroff are "scheduled to meet with employees Tuesday to make the decision official." Schultz wrote, "It's a classy makeup call by Blank, negating a bad decision that never should have happened" (AJC.com, 7/25). Falcons employees who were "given raises after March 1 had their salaries frozen." But a source said that the money those employees missed out on "will be paid July 31." The team "did not have any layoffs during the lockout" (ESPN.com, 7/25).
LIONS: Lions President Tom Lewand yesterday said that "all employees who took a pay cut or furlough during the lockout will be reimbursed for their lost wages." In Detroit, Dave Birkett notes most team employees were given "two-week unpaid furloughs in the spring as a cost-cutting measure" during the lockout. Others in the organization, including Lewand, GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz, "took a temporary 25% pay cut." Meanwhile, Lewand said the Lions received "about four times, five times the number calls" and did "about four or five times the number of sales that we would normally have on any given Monday" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/26). Lewand said that, "as usual, some training camp practices will be open to the public, but he was in the process of ironing out the schedule with Schwartz." Season-ticket holders "will be allowed to attend practice Friday" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/26). ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert wrote the Lions' decision to reimburse employees "doesn't wash away the original decision, which no doubt created hardship at the time." But at least the team "took a reasonable step to make amends toward a group of people who had absolutely, positively nothing to do with the lockout" (ESPN.com, 7/25).
DOLPHINS: The Dolphins yesterday confirmed that Owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee have decided to "return employee salaries to their original levels, effective immediately." Employees also will receive "full refunds of all lost wages in their next paycheck." The team cut salaries by 10-20% in May (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 7/25). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes Dee "was excited because he has seen an uptick in season-ticket sales in the past week." Dee said that new season-ticket sales "ran at about 40 percent of their usual pace, but that the phones have been 'lighting up the past seven to 10 days,' with over 300 packages sold last week." Dee: "Clearly, fans were getting re-energized about football again" (PALM BEACH POST, 7/26).
BILLS: In Buffalo, Mark Gaughan cites a source as saying that the Bills will give a "full reimbursement to all employees of pay that was reduced during the lockout." The Bills' reductions "were imposed on a scale of up to 25 percent of salary, according to each person's pay level." The Bills also "stopped making payments to employees' 401k plans." Those payments also "will be restored, retroactive to the start of the lockout" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/26).
CHIEFS: In K.C., Kent Babb reports about two hours after the lockout ended, the Chiefs "took advantage of the enthusiasm by releasing a well-timed reminder that single-game tickets can be purchased beginning next week." Team officials also told employees that "100 percent of the pay lost in spring pay cuts -- employees making annual salaries of at least $50,000 absorbed cuts -- would be tacked onto Friday’s checks, along with a 3-percent raise retroactive to March 1." Meanwhile, the team last week "declared that some of its employees, who had for years been permitted to watch the game from standing locations after their work was completed, would have to pay for the same privilege when the 2011 season began." Some fans had "complained about locked toll gates and employees sitting in reserved seats." After a "public backlash at the changed policy, the Chiefs have since decided to allow employees to watch the games, albeit with an eye on preserving the paying fans’ experience" (K.C. STAR, 7/26).
GIANTS: Giants President & CEO John Mara noted fans who bought season tickets could authorize the team to charge their credit cards for the full amount once the lockout ended, and he said the club today would likely "send out a notice informing them that now that we have the settlement, we will charge your credit card." Mara said, "I’m sure some of the fans did not appreciate what was going on. But this is a business and we made a bad deal back in 2006 and the players themselves admitted they made a terrific deal back then and this was an opportunity for us to try to correct that. I am just thankful we were able to do it without having to cancel games. I was not that confident about that once the lockout started" ("Francesa," WFAN-AM, 7/25).