NFL denies NFLRA claim they don’t want to negotiate

AP

NFL Referees Association officials said earlier Wednesday the NFL has ignored their requests to continue negotiations after they were locked out on June 3.

The league, as you might expect, denies that claim.

A league spokesman told PFT said the idea they weren’t interested in negotiating was “absolutely false.”

“We have negotiated in good faith for the past nine months,” the league spokesman said. “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.”

NFLRA officials said during a conference call that they had asked for a small bump in pay, but the primary snag in the negotiations comes from the league wanting to cut into pension benefits.

NFLRA legal counsel and lead negotiator Michael Arnold described the gulf between the two sides as small, saying over the course of a five-year agreement, it’s as little as $100,000 per team, per year, or $16 million over the course of a five-year agreement.

They’re arguing, essentially that the league’s pinching pennies at a time of unprecedented wealth.

The league contends they’ve offered a seven-year deal with annual compensation raises between 5 percent and 11 percent.

The NFL offer would take first year officials from $78,000 to $165,000 by the end of the agreement in 2018, with 10th year officials who earned $139,000 last year topping $200,000 by the end of the proposal, with more available for those who get postseason assignments.

Now that both sides have declared themselves ready to talk, perhaps they’ll go under the hood and fix this one, before sending a crop of underqualified officials onto the field this fall.