NEW YORK – The NBA today announced that it will be commencing referee training camp with replacement referees next week because the National Basketball Referees Association rejected its final contract offer yesterday. The NBA’s offer would have maintained current levels of referee salaries and modestly reduced the NBA’s referee costs through changes to benefits and travel policies. The NBA had also accepted the union’s demand for an unusually-short two-year agreement, so that the referees would be able renegotiate as the economy improves.
Under the prior collective bargaining agreement, which expired on September 1, referees were awarded enhanced retirement bonuses of up to $575,000, on top of pension benefits that could exceed $2 million. These retirement benefits, which the NBA has proposed to change, were in addition to compensation of almost $150,000 per year for entry level referees and over $550,000 per year for the most senior referees.
“The proposals we have made to the NBRA are extraordinarily fair and reasonable, given the current economic circumstances,” said Rick Buchanan, the NBA’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “Since late 2008, the league and our teams have made far deeper cuts in non-referee headcount and expenses than we are asking for here. It is extremely disappointing that the NBRA has ignored the economic realities, rejected our offer, and left us with no choice but to begin using replacement referees.”
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