NFL referees voted in a new labor agreement over the weekend and are back to work. Their 115-day lockout by NFL owners, primarily to try and strip traditional pension benefits from the refs, was so out-of-bounds that even the political poster boy for union busting, Scott Walker, called for the regular referees’ return.
All of corporate America seems to be on a crusade to end traditional defined-benefit pension plans for employees. The NFL owners were so intent, they risked the prestige and integrity of a game that generates $9 billion in revenue over about $3.2 million in costs if they gave the refs everything they wanted. That’s 0.08 percent of just their television and cable revenue alone, according to an estimate by the New York Times.
The new eight-year agreement gives the referees a raise and extends the defined benefit plan for current refs through the 2016 season, or when they reach 20 years of service. Then the defined benefit plan will be frozen. New hires and all officials after the 2016 season will be in a defined contribution 401(k).