League can’t fire locked-out refs


Despite the fact that more and more high-profile players are calling for the NFL to bring back the locked-out officials, plenty of fans continue to believe the league should play hardball.

In fact, even after a rough showing on Sunday from the replacement officials, we’re still hearing from some of you that the NFL should treat the locked-out officials the way Ronald Reagan treated the striking air-traffic controllers in 1981, firing them all and making the replacements the permanent officials.

Regardless of whether that would make good business sense, it legally can’t be done.  Sources from both sides of this fight tell PFT that the league can’t permanently replace the locked-out officials because they have been locked out.

The fact that it’s a lockout nevertheless creates issues for the officials.  As rumblings mount that some of them are ready to return to work, there’s no picket line to cross.  None return until all return — and the few who may want to cave will have to convince half of them plus one to vote to accept the league’s terms.

In this regard, the officials are at the mercy of the leadership of the union.  As long as they can avoid a mutiny, the lockout will continue.  If, however, at least 50 percent of them (again, plus one) get together and decide to take over, they can.

28 responses to “League can’t fire locked-out refs

  1. “In this regard, the officials are at the mercy of the leadership of the union.”

    If there were any real “leadership” in that union, they would be officiating games now.

    I think a mutiny of the leadership would be well advised for those that actually want to work in the NFL again.

  2. No matter how bad some of the replacement refs are and how much player safety might be affected, some people will not agree that the real refs need to be brought back – because of politics.

    The fake refs don’t know the rules? The apologists will yell “well, some of the real refs don’t know them either … and they’re a bunch of overpaid union part-time union guys.” Games are being decided by errors? “Well, I enjoy the games better now that those ingrates aren’t on the field.”

    It’s not about logic for some fans. It’s not about what’s best for football. To these people, the ref battle is an extension of the coming November election. They don’t want to see a good game between the Redskins and the Rams – they want to see an epic battle between Business and Unions.

  3. What difference does firing them make? It doesn’t matter. It’s not like the Air traffic controllers who go to work every day. Every day of the year, our nation has air traffic controllers at work.

    The NFL officials can’t make that claim. In fact, they’ve essentially been fired already. They are not working, there are people taking their place now, and in reality, the most work days an official has is four preseason games, 17 regular season games, and four postseason games. That’s tops 25 actual work days, on the field.

    There’s no need to officially fire the real officials. They aren’t working and despite the missteps of the replacements, there isn’t any groundswell to settle this thing at this time.

  4. Nobody wants the locked-out refs to be fired, if anything teams, coaches, owners and players alike want the locked-out refs back after their performance this weekend…

  5. I’m completely on the side of the officials on this one. The scabs are terrible. The NFL trying to low-ball the real officials is like a multi-millionaire getting rid of his butler because the butler wants a $1 an hour raise. I hope a terrible call costs some team a game (not my team, of course) and the NFL has to cave.

  6. I honestly don’t understand how fans could back the NFL in this situation. After two 49ers games, I’ve seen some absolutely garbage calls. Non-calls, phantom interference, you name it. As people pay to watch these games I can’t help but wonder what they smoked before the game to not see what I’m seeing. And also, can I have some of whatever it is?

  7. The only thing that I noticed was the extra stuff between players after the whistle… I think the refs have to get more aggressive after blowing the whistle and separate guys..

  8. i keep hearing that the replay official is NOT a replacement official, but a regular one. i dont understand this. why are the replay officials still regular but the rest of the regulars are locked out?

  9. The refs have been atrocious.

    It seems that most people think they have been ok because there have been no mistakes that clearly changed the outcome of a game. That’s not the standard of review.

    The officials should perform like the best in the business and they’re not even close. Teams are getting away with murder in the secondary. Tons of blatant illegal pick plays going uncalled. Sure, the regular officials are not perfect, but this is ridiculous.

    Firing the officials would devaluing the game and player safety. Terrible idea, just like most other things Reagan did.

  10. commonsensedude says:Sep 17, 2012 8:29 AM

    No matter how bad some of the replacement refs are and how much player safety might be affected, some people will not agree that the real refs need to be brought back – because of politics. … the ref battle is an extension of the coming November election. They don’t want to see a good game between the Redskins and the Rams – they want to see an epic battle between Business and Unions.

    You’re reading way too much into this. This is about a small group of men who work part time and enjoy better salaries and benefits than 95% of American workers enjoy on their full-time jobs. And the fact that they want more. A lot more. They already have a guaranteed six-figure lifetime income stream and they want more. And the NFL offered them more but it still wasn’t enough. This is about the greed of that group of men. And it’s primarily about rational cost containment. The NFL straightened out the ridiculous rookie salary situation. Now it’s time to deal with the greedy part-timers.

  11. “The NFL trying to low-ball the real officials is like a multi-millionaire getting rid of his butler because the butler wants a $1 an hour raise.”

    Except instead of a $1 raise, the butler wants his salary doubled. And he also wants the millionaire to agree to never fire him under any circumstances regardless of his job performance, which up until this point has been spotty. Additionally, his work can also never be subjected to scrutiny. He also wants these terms extended to the rest of the house staff. And he wants the millionaire to agree to never hire any additional staff regardless of how the production may suffer.

    So yeah. Exactly like your example…. who wouldn’t want that butler?

  12. Treat the officials just like the contract laborers they are. Pay them 1099 and it’s their responsibility to take care of their own taxes and retirement. Just because the NFL has the money to spend doesn’t mean it should spend the money. The criticism is harsh right now because you have members of the media with an axe to grind and an agenda to push making calling the officials under more scrutiny than ever before. It will be really interesting, for example, if the old officials are ever brought back if media sites such as this devote equal time to criticizing the officiating.

  13. I keep hearing that it is the NFL that doesn’t want to pay the Refs.

    Here is what I remember

    1. NFL offered 5 – 7% raises each year. The Refs stated that they want 11-12% raises each year. 11 – 12% is an outrageous number, most people don’t get more than 5% for a perfect review as full time – why should they get that as part time?

    2. The NFL wanted to make some or all of the Refs full time employees, this is something even the teams and fans have asked for. The refs have refused this as they want to keep their high paying primary jobs.

    3. The Refs want full coverage health, dental, and optical that is fully paid by the NFL. This is something that most people struggle for with their primary jobs and even then have to pay at least some of their insurance costs.

    4. The refs want a fully paid 401k program – that is something again most people can’t get – typically we would get a few % matched.

    5. The NFL wants an evaluation program that allows them to either demote or remove refs that are underperforming – of course the refs want none of that, they have outright refused that.

    So what we have are refs that are supposed to be better than any potential competition for their jobs, that want to stay part time but get better than full time benefits, all the while not having to be evaluated by their performance. In fact their raises are guaranteed but not performance based.

    So while, I would like to see the regular refs back at some level, I can’t see giving them what they want as it is unreasonable.

    With regards to player safety, the refs penalize bad plays after they happen, they can’t prevent injuries.

    Oh – you are harming the integrity of the game, however I remember alot of the same people saying the same thing last year with the regular refs. So, the integrity of the game is compromised by not having the best – replacement or regular.

    Oh, and BTW – the more you bitch, the longer it takes because the idiots in the ref union think that this is giving them leverage. The NFL won’t deal from a position of weakness with the refs. If they were willing to play chicken with the players and hunderds of millions of dollars, the refs don’t stand a chance.

  14. The biggest difference and upside I see with the replacements is that the “bad” calls are not all one-sided like it is with the other refs. Case in point – have you noticed how the packers have less of a home field advantage so far this season?

  15. “so why cant the refs just quit the union and go to work for the NFL?”

    It’s an issue of staying with the “lesser of the two evils” which at times can be an issue in itself.

  16. As many have stated, the nfl made a very fair offer. The refs are asking for the moon. They dont want to be demoted for fired for performance decline. good gig if you can get it. Thankfully for us fans, the nfl wont give it to them. WHEN the same stuff was happening with regular officials as now, thered be no way to penalize them. Everyone would just have to deal with it. Is that REALLY what you want?

  17. I like that people say “The NFL has the money, they just need to pay them!” You expect that of NO ONE else in life, and wouldn’t like it expected of you, so that seems a little hypocritical. NO ONE makes the type of demands these Refs are making and gets it! Not only do they want their pay doubled, guaranteed insurance, 401 k, not have to work full time, and more, for this nice concession, they ALSO want to make sure they are not held to any standards or are able to be replaced or reprimanded. They want to make sure the NFL doesn’t not have a replacement pool of refs to draw from if a ref needs censured! COME ONE MAN! I haven’t had a raise in 7 years, have NO benefits, no paid vacation, no holiday pay, no sick days, AND I work 52 weeks a year! It is called negotiating Refs, learn it and use it!

  18. The Regular refs make just as many bad calls as the replacement guys. They will get better. I have not seen as many stupid Ghost Pass interference calls this season so far and that is a good thing. let the regular refs pound sand.

  19. Both sides have issues on the strike, lock out, walk out, what ever. The point is they are not working. I think the league needs to try and work out a deal, we don’t need any more of less experience, or cheap labor because we can get it. And not just any body can do that job, have we been watching the games lately?Reagan had the legal right to fired federal employees, perhaps it wasn’t the right thing to do, they were led down the wrong path, I even talk with him when he was ruining for the job.Speaking of the middle class, Mr. Romney has said they are at 250K and less, I think 250K would place you in the top 3%, not middle class in my book. Bill

  20. @bigjdve

    Most of your “facts” are wrong.

    The league has offered between 5% and 7% raises over the life on the contract. NOT per year. That equates to 0.7% per year which given that inflation is running higher, is a real terms, pay CUT.

    The league is also taking, on average , $27k of pension contribution per year away from the officials.

    So you do the math: 0.7% pay raise and a $27k pension cut per year.

    Given that offer, wouldn’t you at least want to negotiate???

    Which is all the regular referee’s are asking. They have not made any statement that they will reject a lesser pension plan or new performance evaluation or any of the crap you have listed.

    All they have asked is the the league come to the negotiating table with an OPEN MIND.

    FYI: I am not a referee and not in any union (never have) and I have no horse in this race whatsoever. I also vote Republican.

  21. realfann: I will recheck where I had read the numbers.

    However considering that they are part time workers, that is better than most people could hope to get.

    However, I really don’t think that money has anything really to do with it. I think it is more about the not wanting to have any evaluation system.

    The regular refs are criticizing the replacements but don’t want the same for themselves.

    And to answer your question, yes I would want to negotiate. However I would also have the reasonable stance that my work could be evaluated.

    Stating no to that isn’t negotiating or being reasonable.

  22. @bigjdve

    They haven’t said no. All they’ve asked for is a chance to go back to the negotiating table with an open agenda.

    The league has refused. Goodell is on record as saying he’s made his final offer and the officials can take it or leave it i.e. he is not willing to negotiate.

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