The NFL’s lockout of its veteran and trained professional corps of referees is now over after the league and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) reached a tentative eight-year agreement late Wednesday night. The referees will hold a ratification vote Friday and Saturday.
NFLRA officials will be on the field in Baltimore tonight, when the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns, and across the league for Sunday’s and Monday’s games.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the end of the lockout means, “A football season, which started in disaster, can now get back on track. Not only toward fairness and integrity for the game, but ensuring the highest level of safety possible for the athletes who play the game.”
There is a lot we can learn from the past few weeks, but one thing is sure—no one does their job better than workers who have union training and a voice on the job. But let us also not forget the workers everywhere—like those at American Crystal Sugar who have been locked out for more than a year—who might not have the same national stage, but endure the same corporate greed and unfair treatment. So for NFL fans and workers everywhere fighting for a voice on the job…game on!
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) had called on the NFL to end the lockout, saying the use of the replacement officials was jeopardizing players’ health and safety. In a statement Thursday morning, the NFLPA said:
Our workplace is safer with the return of our professional referees. We welcome our fellow union members back on our field.
After three weeks of wrong and missed calls, a growing lack of control by the replacement refs recruited from high school, small college and minor football league—including the Lingerie League—Monday night’s debacle in Seattle, where a last-second wrong call cost the Green Bay Packers a win over the Seattle Seahawks, proved to be the tipping point for the league to move to reach a deal. ESPN.com’s Jeff Chadiha writes:
That play will forever define a lockout that never should have happened in the first place….As much as people want to apply blame to both sides in a labor squabble, it's impossible for me not to fault the owners on this one….The hope here is that the league learned a valuable lesson: Greed gets you only so far.