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NFLRA fires back at NFL's 'misinformation campaign'

The SportsXchange

After two days of negotiations failed to provide a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its locked-out referees, the NFLRA issued a terse response to a league memo distributed to all 32 teams on Sunday.

The NFLRA statement claimed the NFL memo was leaked to select media with "false and misleading information."

At issue is a memo distributed by NFL vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash that was published in full by multiple outlets.

In the memo, Pash states that union president Jeff Triplette "quantified the economic gap between the parties as approximately $4 million per year for compensation and retirement benefits combined, and was told by Commissioner Roger Goodell that the deal could be closed by "agreeing to provide an additional $1 million per year, which could be used to improve either base compensation or our proposal regarding retirement benefits."

The memo also claimed that the current offer from the NFL would increase the average compensation for a game official from $149,000 to $189,000 by 2018, and outlined the league's position on a new retirement plan.

Pash wrote that the current terms on the table from the league were in an effort to close the deal now and get the referees on the field for Week 1, and not to establish a new base line in negotiations.

"In response to a direct question from the Commissioner, Mr. Triplette confirmed that the union was coming to New York to conclude an agreement within the parameters that had been discussed earlier on Friday," Pash wrote.

The memo stated the union did "an about-face" on Saturday morning and that the additional $1 million per season was nowhere close to what is needed for the NFLRA to agree to a new deal, and that the union reverted to their pre-lockout proposal numbers.

In response, the NFLRA took direct issue with several parts of Pash's memo:

"Members of the NFLRA Negotiating Committee traveled to New York to meet on Saturday with the NFL. Commissioner Goodell did not attend. The NFLRA was prepared to discuss all remaining issues to reach a fair CBA. However, the NFL provided an ultimatum that the NFLRA abandon its positions on all issues other than compensation in return for the possibility that the NFL would modestly increase its offer.

"The NFLRA put forth a compensation alternative which was immediately rejected by the NFL. The NFLRA asked the NFL to reconsider the NFLRA's offer to "grandfather" the defined benefit pension plan. The NFL rejected the request. The NFLRA asked the NFL to discuss other alternatives to resolve the pension issue. The NFL rejected that request.

"Having refused to negotiate until the 11th hour, the NFL has chosen a tactic of personal attacks on the leadership of the NFLRA. This is unfortunate because the NFLRA simply seeks a fair CBA and the opportunity to get back on the field. The NFLRA continues its position that its members receive slightly less than they were paid under the 2006 CBA, and the continuation of the defined benefit plan for its current members - all which would cost the NFL about 1/3 of 1% of its $9 Billion in revenues. It continues to mystify any objective observer of the situation why the NFL would jeopardize the safety of its players, the integrity of the game and the quality of its product in order to continue its attack on its professional referees."

There are no current plans for the sides to meet again.

The NFL informed teams last week that replacement refs will be used for Wednesday's regular-season opener between the Giants and Cowboys, and are expected to be used for the full Week 1 slate of games at this point.
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