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The NFL Won the Referee Lockout

Don’t mind me, I’m just looking at the deal which was just approved 112 to 5.

The best description of the approved deal is at the Washington Post.

The deal runs through the 2019 season and gives significant raises to the officials, who are part-time employees. The average NFL official earned $149,000 last year. Under the new deal, that is to increase to an average of $173,000 in 2013 and $205,000 in 2019.

The two sides had been particularly at odds over pensions, which seemed to emerge as the major sticking point late in the negotiations. Referees wanted to retain their pension plan, which the league apparently considered too generous, particularly for part-time employees. The NFL wanted to switch the officials to 401(k) retirement plans.

The compromise that was struck, according to an announcement by the league about the terms of the deal, would keep the pension plan in place for current officials for five years through the 2016 season, at which point it will be frozen. Newly hired officials will be given 401(k) retirement plans, as will all officials beginning in 2017.

The league also sought during the negotiations to make some officials full-time employees and to increase the overall number of officials to enhance its ability to replace those officials that it considers to be under-performing.

The deal, according to the NFL’s announcement, allows the league to make some officials full-time employees beginning in 2013. It also allows the league to hire additional officials for training and development, and gives the NFL the ability to assign those officials to work games. The league’s announcement said it could determine the number of newly hired officials. There currently are 121 officials.

So what does that all tell us.

1) Refs will be paid more.

Okay, the NFL makes a fleet of boatloads of money annually.  Most thought the referees were going to get paid more anyway when this whole thing started in June.


2) Pensions go bye-bye in 2017, new hires get a 401K.

So…all this pretty much tells me is we’re going to see a high turnover of experienced NFL refs in five years when the pension gets frozen after 2016.  Good to know that today’s B1G Ten officials are tomorrow’s NFL ones.

If this was the sticking point in negotiations, all it did was speed up retirements. (Boy, that sounds familiar for Wisconsinites doesn’t it?)


3) Goodell has the power to sack under-performing referees mid-season

Frankly, I’m surprised he never had this ability before now.


4) Goodell gets his extra crews.

Guys like Mort and Adam over at ESPN seemed to think this was not going to happen.  Well, it did.  So it means that Goodell and future NFL commissioners have their extra crews for training or even replacements for under-performing crews mid-season and thus taking away pay for “Regular refs.”


So we may have gotten our “real refs” back tomorrow, but other than a short-term public relations hit (which the NFL has only just begun to reverse the damage of), the League didn’t take too much on the chin in labor negotiations.

Remind me again why the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka thought this was a “win” for Labor exactly?

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  • steveegg

    Higher wages equal bigger union dues. Bigger union dues equal bigger salaries for union bosses. Trumka is all about the Benjamins.