(PhatzRadio / USA Today) — The NFL regular season is less than three weeks away, but the league’s veteran officials remain locked out with little apparent movement toward a new collective bargaining agreement.
But the NFL Referees Association had its say Thursday, refuting claims that NFL Executive VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson has made in recent interviews, including appearances on NFL Network and ESPN.
In a press release titled “NFL Referees Respond to NFL Inaccuracies,” the NFLRA issued its own assertions:
On the NFL’s desire to hire three more officiating crews (or 21 extra officials): The NFLRA says it was an 11th-hour request but seems more perturbed that the league allegedly would not increase the “aggregate compensation allocated among all officials” despite adding 21 employees. “This proposal is a negotiating tactic to attempt to divert attention from the real issues,” per the NFLRA.
On the NFL’s claim that is offering 5-11% raises to the officials based on their service: The refs says the actual breakdown amounts to raises less than 3%. They have not had raises since 2006.
The NFL says its pension plan for the officials is ‘aggressively fair’: The NFLRA feels the league is determined to “terminate the plan” even though the refs have offered to allow pensions to be phased out as long as they apply to the current referees.
Negotiations. Rhetoric. Public perception. Looming deadlines. This is what happens when contentious talks linger to the last minute, as they almost always do.
However it’s hard to justify any scenario where the tenured officials are not back on the field by Week 1. It’s bad for player safety, a primary NFL initiative in recent years, and it’s bad for the on-field product as we’ve seen in preseason.
Let’s hope both sides can accelerate the inevitable by both giving a little. As the NFLRA concluded today: “It is time for truthful and meaningful negotiations to take place.”