NFLRA urges compromise on pension issue


A day after one of the ugliest NFL weekends concluded, the NFL didn’t call the NFL Referees Association apparently didn’t  to continue negotiations.  And the NFLRA didn’t call the NFL.  Instead, the NFLRA called out the league.

In an open letter written by NFLRA executive director Tim Millis, the locked-out officials urge the NFL to compromise on the pension issue by continuing to provide all current officials with a defined benefit pension plan (which puts the investment risk on the employer), and converting all new officials to a defined contribution pension plan (which puts the investment risk on the employee).

It’s the referees version of the rookie wage scale.  The guys who already have gone through the door are willing to slam it in the faces of those who aren’t yet in the room.

“Every current NFL official was hired by the NFL with the promise of a defined-benefit pension package,” Millis writes.  “All of these officials and their families have made important life-planning decisions based on this benefit promise.  The NFL now wants to break the promise by eliminating that benefit.”

It’s a fair point, but it sounds like the promise wasn’t legally enforceable — which makes the promise entirely worthless.

“Why does the League want to do this?” Millis asks.  “Is the League in financial distress?  Does the League see its financial future as bleak?  Not hardly.  The League states that it desires to eliminate the defined contribution plan because other American businesses are moving away from such plans to a defined-contribution type plan.  However, 18 of the League’s member clubs continue to retain their defined-benefit plans for their employees.”

The league is taking this position because it can.  With enormous bargaining power, the NFL has no qualms about using it, and they’re using it against the locked-out officials and waiting from them to cry uncle.

The fact that the NFLRA is making its case publicly indicates that the NFLRA already has tried to make its case privately, but the NFL doesn’t care.  And the NFL won’t care now.  And the NFL will continue to not care until the fans vote with their eyeballs or their wallets — or until Congress decides to make the issue a priority, which surely wouldn’t happen until after the upcoming elections, at the earliest.

36 responses to “NFLRA urges compromise on pension issue

  1. The NFLRA can stick it honestly. As time passes they become obsolete.

    How about no.

    Have fun watching four hour games with no flow or feeling of structure. The refs got much worse this past weekend and I bet it won’t stop. The games are a joke now.

  2. I don’t want this to scenario to happen. What will the NFL do when the Replacement Refs. Simply continue to screw up and a player gets seriously injured due to lack of control of the game?

  3. We made the NFL what it is today and now they could give a rats ass about the fans they don’t care about us at all just about how much we are willing to spend I refuse to go to a game as long as the NFL gives us these garbage replacement refs

  4. Not many full time companies even give pensions nor do people get paid the amount these refs make as a part time job. I get paid less in full time job than what these guys get on a part time basis. Good for the nfl for standing up to this non sense of a proposal.

  5. Usually I always fall in the side if management in these negotiations (see Chicago teachers strike while median salary is 68k + benefits), but in this case the NFL is just wrong. Big tip of the cap to the media for devoting good press to this- NFL needs to buckle here but the egos of some of the owners (see Jerry Jones) put winning the negotiation above the best interest of the players and their fans.

  6. I can honestly say that certain teams and players have received better than fair treatment over the past few years from the “NFLRA”.

    I can also say that the former NFL Ref’s, or the NFLRA, have screwed up enough games in the past that a lot of fans don’t care. (IE: I honestly feel the New Ref’s would have called Calvin Johnson TD against Chicago a TD)

    I kind of like the fact that the New Ref’s make the playing field kind of even in a new way. My money says that you wont see Tom Brady faking a knee injury against Baltimore this year.

  7. I’m curious to know how much the refs actually want? They work about 20 days out of the year ( counting preseason ) and 3-4 hours a those days? I think I’m in the wrong work field?!

  8. I could have swore I read that this was the plan. The current refs pension would be grandfathered in while all new refs got a 401k? Maybe I am remembering things wrong but I am almost positive I read that was the initial offer.

  9. So here we are after week 2 of the NFL reg. season.
    It’s been said the replacements will be getting better as we move along toward the end of the regular season and playoff spots start lining up.
    After this weeks games the the trend for the replacements is down, not up.
    When the playoff INCOME for the Owners becomes an issue based on bad calls by the replacements the League will blink and a deal will get done.
    At least I HOPE SO.
    MNF was laughable.

  10. I think people are missing some things here. The refs want part ownership or such. The owners already gave up 50% profits to the players. When the refs saw the nfl cave, they saw opportunity.

    Personally I think there should be 16 full time refs…1 for each game to run a ref crew.

    And the main hangup is that the nfl wants to be able to fire a ref if they want. Some of these guys are in their 60s. Yes, each year they take physicals, but the nfl is not allowed to fire them if fhey fail it.

    And half the refs cannot even keep up with the players.

  11. I think the replacements are just fine. Everyone hated the regular refs too. My vote is to use the replacements indefinitely.

  12. The obvious thing to do is agree to a middle ground. Something like referees with more than 10 years service to stay in the old scheme and newer refs to go into the new system.

    It’s a compromise that has been made by a number of American companies including the one I work for.

    The key is to get around a table and talk it out. The NFL neanderthal negotiating technique of “take it or leave it” is a Victorian attitude that should have died a century or more ago.

  13. The issue with pensions is a tough one, on one hand, pension programs have backrupted (nearly) not only local governments, but state governments, the auto industry, the airline industry and many areas in manufacturing. With that said, the NFL can offer up a little compromise on this subjet, especially if it is going to continue with the use of “integrity of the game.”

  14. If no progress is made by Monday Night, you’ll see a joint players/coaches strike Monday morning. No MNF will be played, instead, the league will spend the day finalizing the deal ASAP.

  15. how in the world can a player be hurt by an official. let the league fine the heck out of the moron players taking advantage. fire the refs. many people have lost their pensions. these idiots are part time employeees. dump them. all of them. major league baseball fired every ump during a strike. things worked out fine and so will this.

  16. Pension programs are a drain on your business/government when you do not put the proper money in to finance them. A lot of these businesses/governments make a promise to the employees and kick the can down the road so they don’t have to make tough choices. All the while they make like everything is going to be okay for the employees. All while taking huge profits or spending the money on programs that aren’t necessary.

    Then when the bill comes due, these institutions stick it to the employee by “renegotiating” the deal that was agreed upon. It’s just the devolution of employee rights throughout this country. People who say “well I don’t have a pension plan like that” should ask the question “why not?”. It’s a jealousy complex that the owners/governments have worked us over the last 30 years.

    The American Dream that includes a decent retirement is now gone. Sad.

  17. it seems like everyone is making assumptions. no one really seems to know how much a ref makes a year and how much pension they get. i agree with the NFL if they are only working 1 day a week for 10 hrs and asking for pension. Lets be honest, that’s not fair to most of the workers in america. I would like to see an article with details on how much refs are making, how much pensions they typically get, how many hours they work and so on. Would be very helpful.

  18. Jobs are worth what jobs are worth. That value is largely determined by the skill level required, the competition for that position, and the market value of that position as it relates to similar jobs in the region. The value of a job is not directly related to the financial status of the employer. That being said, the refs are trying to get way more money and benefits from the NFL than should be considered fair compensation for their services and through a form of collective bargaining blackmail, hurting the NFL, the fans and ultimately themselves with their greed.

  19. Make them full time and make them quit their other full time jobs. The ref’s want the cake and eat it too. As for now your part time and should get the benefits of a part time worker. Unions and lawyers continue to ruin this country and only the union heads benefit from them.

  20. What a gig if you can get it. 6 figures and a defined benefit pension for a part-time job? Wow! On top of their of their full time job, which I’ve read a good bit are attorneys, so I would imagine they’re not going hungry. Stand your ground, NFL. It’s amazing how easy it is for people to give away others money.

  21. binkystevens says: Sep 19, 2012 12:19 AM

    Usually I always fall in the side if management in these negotiations (see Chicago teachers strike while median salary is 68k + benefits), but in this case the NFL is just wrong. Big tip of the cap to the media for devoting good press to this- NFL needs to buckle here but the egos of some of the owners (see Jerry Jones) put winning the negotiation above the best interest of the players and their fans.

    you do notice in chicago that management just caved in? you can’t replace the 29,000 teachers in that union, you can replace 200 referees quickly.

    if the league gives in to the absurd amount of money they’re asking for, many of these referees will become lazy because of the ridiculous amounts of money they’ll make for this part time job along with their full time job (doctors, lawyers, etc).

    the nfl would have no power to fire them since the referees are bonded under they’re union. if they get pension, it would cost the nfl millions upon millions for PART TIME WORK, which is why the nfl wants some officials as full time employees, so they can have control of their status and base it upon performance instead of taking advantage of a system.

    you can replace 200 referees for part time work. if they get a year’s worth of experience and training in the off season, i guarantee that you would see no difference between the refs of the past and the replacements. you learn from mistakes. people would die to have part time work like this.

  22. BS on the whole NFLRA! They get paid handsomely, they work more than 17 days per year that everyone keeps mentioning. They have to prepare for the games and review their performance from previous weeks games.

    With that said, they work about 60 days a year or 600 hours for an average of $189,000 which equates to about $315.00 dollars per hour. If I were the refs, I would keep my day job and have every penny be contributed to my day job 401K and after 10 years, have a nice retirement package.

    Not the NFLRA, they must feel that they are putting something that they own at risk to be asking for something akin to profit sharing of the teams and league.

    The worst part of this, if they screw up, there is no recourse by the league, enough of this BS, fire them and keep training the replacements.

  23. 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 via a defined benefit pension plan 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

  24. Roger Goodell is gambling with the most popular sport in America in order to save some billionaires about 3.5 million a year.

    Pretty soon Goodell and the owners will find they have cooked the golden goose. Oops.

  25. It looks like those old, slow, blind refs are getting nervous. good. I say fire their arses and keep the new guys, as long as they sign on with the legally enforcable stipulation that they not form a union.

  26. agcooney108 says:Sep 19, 2012 12:16 AM

    Not many full time companies even give pensions nor do people get paid the amount these refs make as a part time job. I get paid less in full time job than what these guys get on a part time basis. Good for the nfl for standing up to this non sense of a proposal.

    If they have it so good, why don’t you go and become an NFL referee? Sounds like you’re jealous. Bet you hate on teachers, cops and firefighters too. If you worried more about whats in your backyard instead of whats in someone elses backyard, you’d be much happier.

  27. They should not just grandfather the current refs for as long as they stay. I think they should offer to keep the pensions for the next 3-5 years for the existing refs, then it ends for all of them. This will drive some to retire, which would be good for getting some new/young refs in the pool. I think this is fairly common when transitioning from pensions to 401(k).

  28. The average ref salary exceeds $150K/yr for part-time work and they’re demanding a continuation of a pension system that virtually no private business use any more, including the NFL administration itself. The ref’s maybe (big maybe) should get a pay raise, but their demands for a continued pension system rather tahn a 401K are unreasonable and outdated.

  29. The NFL should have never had a defined benefit pension for Refs. It is a thing of the past. Deal with it in some other way. The key to any negotiations with Refs is that they should get fired for poor performance based upon what the league itself rules. The money part is what it is and should be the easy part of a negotiation since the owners have seen their investment grow by five fold over the past decade plus. Pay the money but these refs cannot be a teachers’ union with tenure. They have to keep up, perform well or get out. If they insist on this type of union where poor performance can continue in any manner, then keep the replacements and let them learn and improve.

  30. In this horrible economy these guys should be thankful they have a job making 100K+ a year to work part-time and any pension. Stop the greed and try contentment. Lots of people would love to work at all. So over them.

  31. Have you knuckleheads figured out that if referees were fired based on performance like you want, 50% of the replacement refs would have been fired this morning?

  32. winskins says:

    “Roger Goodell is gambling with the most popular sport in America in order to save some billionaires about 3.5 million a year.”

    What you (and others) fail to understand is that the owner/billionaires aren’t going to pay a dime of any increase for the NFLRA.

    You and I are, as fans of the NFL.

    Well, maybe not you, I don’t know your situation.

    I’m a season ticket owner, and as such, I will be paying my share of any increase.

    I understand, and accept, that the owner of my team is going to make a profit. He should – he’s invested millions/billions of his own money.

    The refs are entitled to a fair wage and benefit package for the skills they have and provide to the NFL.

    I think they are currently compensated extremely well and I think the NFL can live with the current wages.

    But the pension is a whole different story.

    And the refusal by the NFLRA for any accountablility for their members performance on the field is a huge stumbling block to any negotiated settlement.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!