Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 19 News List

NBA: NBA tells teams it will go ahead with replacement refs

AP , NEW YORK

The NBA has told teams it’s going ahead with replacement referees, days after the league thought a deal had been reached with locked-out officials.

The league sent a memo on Tuesday informing teams it had “no expectation of concluding a timely labor contract.” The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, follows the latest failure in negotiations.

The memo said that the sides had agreed in principle on a new two-year deal on Friday, but the National Basketball Referees Association rejected the NBA’s proposal on Sunday.

The memo alludes to the reversal, saying: “this is not the first time that commitments made by the NBRA’s negotiators were not met.”

Commissioner David Stern previously ended one of the bargaining sessions when the league felt the referees backed out of previously agreed upon concessions.

The NBA held training camp for referees with replacements over the weekend and will release its roster of backups before the first preseason game, scheduled for today.

The union’s five-person executive board originally voted to recommend the approval of the league’s proposal to the membership, an official familiar with the talks said on condition of anonymity. However, one of the board members then switched his vote, and the full membership then rejected the deal as well.

The contract between the league and its officials expired on Sept. 1 and they have been unable to reach a new deal. Negotiations broke down at least twice as the sides remained apart on the league’s proposed changes to the referees’ pension and severance packages, as well as a plan to develop younger officials.

In the memo, the NBA told teams that the deal in principle would have resulted in savings in the referees program by approximately 3.5 percent over the next two years.

Previous deals with the officials have been for five years, but the league agreed to make it two in this contract so the referees could renegotiate sooner, when it hoped the league’s economic situation had changed.

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