NFL, Ref Union Agree on New Contract

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Wisconsin, the same state that thumbed its nose at collective bargaining for it's state's unionized workers earlier this year, will welcome the NFL Referees Union with open arms this weekend as Green Bay and cities across the nation recover from three months of football horribly managed by replacement refs.

The NFL and its locked-out referees signed a new contract late Wednesday night, in time to have regular officials work tonight’s Cleveland-Baltimore game and the full slate of games this coming Sunday.

According to Jim Daopoulos, former supervisor of officials, the league and NFL Referees Association signed the deal and immediately started working on finding refs for Thursday night football.

The refs, locked out for three months, are to vote today in Dallas on their deal. The refs will attend a clinic later today before breaking into their crews, the same as last year, and traveling on Saturday to their games.

The new five-year contract includes a 4 percent pay raise.

Their defined-benefit pension plan, seen as the last sticking point, will remain five more seasons before the refs switch to a 401(k) contribution for another five seasons.

Commissioner Roger Goddell’s presence at negotiations on Tuesday, plus the Monday night debacle in Seattle, forced the two sides to bargain late into the night, The Associated Press reported. Monday night's game saw the Green Bay Packers lose in one of the more controversial endings in football history.

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