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Thread: CBA between NFL and its officials has expired. Replacement official training to begin

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    CBA between NFL and its officials has expired. Replacement official training to begin

    Report: Talks between NFL, officials break down
    Posted by Josh Alper on June 4, 2012, 11:06 AM EDT

    With their contract set to expire on May 31st, the NFL and the union for the league’s officials met for mediation in Washington D.C. in hopes of working out a new deal for the 2012 season and beyond.

    It does not seem to have been a success. The old contract expried and Adam Schefter of ESPN reports Monday that the talks have broken off between the two sides. As a result, the NFL has advised all 32 teams that they will now start working to hire replacement officials.

    The NFL will be looking everywhere but BCS conferences for these officials. Per Schefter, the close relationship between BCS and NFL officials is causing the league to look elsewhere in order to avoid putting BCS officials in a tough spot. Retired college officials, officials from smaller conferences and those working in arena football will all be considered for replacement jobs.

    There was a similar need for replacement officials 11 years ago, but that was long before the league and players became so focused on issues related to on-field safety. That will make this effort more complicated, especially if the players union is inclined to make this part of their larger fight with the NFL.

    NFL will start hiring, training replacement officials this month
    Posted by Michael David Smith on June 4, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

    The NFL has confirmed that it will begin hiring and training replacement officials this month after talks broke down on a new contract with the current group of officials.

    “Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired,” the league said in a statement. “Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials.”

    Regional training sessions for replacement officials will begin in June, the league said, in an effort to have the replacement officials ready to go if a deal with the regular refs is still unresolved when the regular season starts.

    “Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games,” the league said in its statement.

    The NFL’s previous six-year agreement with its officials expired this year. Although negotiations on a new CBA with the officials began in October, progress remains slow.

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    Labor dispute with officials could be next front in NFL-NFLPA fight
    Posted by Mike Florio on June 4, 2012, 1:36 PM EDT

    The league’s announcement that it has commenced the process of hiring and training replacement officials could serve only to further deteriorate an already fragile relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA.

    Though the players’ union has been largely quiet regarding the labor dispute between the league and the game officials, the NFLPA has on at least one recent occasion made reference to “the situation with professional football’s first responders, NFL referees.”

    With the new emphasis on concussion detection, that’s not hyperbole. And the expectation that the officials will add medical duties to their encyclopedic knowledge of the rule book probably is one of the many issues that is being debated. It’s an expansion of their duties, and their compensation fairly should reflect that.

    Given the solidarity vibe that the NFLPA tried to exploit last year by sidling up to unions whose members make far less than six figures in annual salary, it’s possible that the NFLPA will stand up for the officials. Though this likely wouldn’t result in the players refusing to cross a picket line (especially since to do so would undoubtedly violate the labor deal), the union has the right to say anything it wants when it comes to whether the officials are being treated fairly by the league, such as accusing the league of hiring second-rate “scabs” to preside over the critically important business of officiating NFL games.

    And if the replacement officials perform sufficiently poorly to jeopardize player safety, grievances could be filed.

    Still, the question of whether the players will stand up for better wages for the officials isn’t as easy as it may appear. Any money that the NFL must pay the game officials ultimately becomes money that could be given to the players. While the players have nine years of certainty regarding what they’ll be paid, a significant increase in the NFL’s expenditures for officials could make the league decide to get some of that money back from the players during the next CBA negotiations — especially if the officials will be getting paid a premium to protect the players.

    Then there’s the fact that the NFL’s officials didn’t do much, if anything, to stand up for the players during last year’s lockout. There were, for example, no legal briefs or other efforts to argue that the antitrust violations occurring as to the non-union (at the time) players could also be visited upon a group of non-union game officials.

    It’s a tit-for-tat approach that could echo for decades, with the officials never supporting the players and the players never supporting the officials, given that both sides ultimately are concerned primarily if not exclusively with ensuring that they’ll get the most they can — especially if it means infringing on the money that goes to the other group of employees who are critical to the staging of pro football games.

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    NFLRA fires back at the NFL
    Posted by Mike Florio on June 4, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

    Commissioner Roger Goodell may want to renegotiate his latest contract.

    His job has become yet more complicated, with the breakdown in negotiations between the league and the NFL Referees Association. And despite that fact that the NFLRA previously had been conciliatory in its public comments, lead negotiator Mike Arnold has, yes, thrown a yellow flag in the NFL’s direction.

    In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Arnold claims that the league “never intended to work toward a fair agreement,” abandoning the federal mediation process after only two sessions.

    Arnold claims that the league sent letters to potential replacements “before we even finished our negotiating session with the Federal Mediator.”

    He also says that the league’s negotiators “took fewer than five minutes to review the NFLRA’s offer,” and that the offer rejected by the league “requested increases smaller than those the League agreed to in 2006.”

    “There are no additional negotiating sessions currently scheduled,” Arnold says. ”However, our organization’s professional referees will continue preparing for the 2012 NFL season to the best of their abilities, despite the NFL’s refusal to provide them with vital training and educational materials.

    “It is unfortunate that as referees’ responsibilities are expanded that the NFL would jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game by seeking amateur, under qualified referees to administer professional games.”

    Plenty of fans would take issue with that final point, given the ongoing criticism of the performance of game officials. But the reality is that the NFL already hires the best of the best. If the league uses replacement officials, the games will be officiated by something less than that.

    Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s unacceptable to have anything other than the best officials working NFL games.

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    NFL says lockout of officials has begun

    Posted by Mike Florio on June 4, 2012, 2:56 PM EDT

    If it wasn’t clear given the circumstances, it’s clear now: The NFL has locked out its game officials.

    NFL spokesman Greg Aiello informs PFT that the lockout has commenced. ”They advised us in March of their intention to take a strike vote and their plans to drag out the negotiations until late summer,” Aiello said.

    By taking the initiative, the NFL can proceed with plans for identifying and training replacements, without being backed into a corner by a late-August walkout.

    The effort to line up replacements also clarifies something about which there was some speculation during the player lockout last year. Even if the work stoppage is initiated by the employer, the employer can hire replacements.

    Of course, the NFLRA could now try to take the league to court, either to block the hiring of replacements or, if the NFLRA decertifies (more accurately, “disclaims interest”) and the individual officials file an antitrust claim, like the players did in 2011.

    That could be a more challenging task for the officials, since they are hired not by the 32 separate business that make up by the NFL but by the NFL to provide services to the 32 businesses.

    Regardless, the league’s latest labor dispute officially has begun. Ed Hochuli and company are locked out. Barring a deal or a court order, the league will be using a new set of men in black (and white) once the 2012 season begins.

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    this is going to be the head referee Game One versus the Broncos:


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