Obama Expresses Hope That NFL Referee Lockout Ends Soon

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President Barack Obama took to Twitter Tuesday to express hope that the lockout of the NFL's unionized referrees ends soon.


Barack Obama
NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon. -bo

Obama joined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and GOP vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who both have called for an end to the replacement referees. (Ryan's spokesman, Brendan Buck, tweeted that Obama was "leading from behind.")

Walker and Ryan, both Wisconsinites, were outraged by the final call in Monday night's Seahawks-Packers game. Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson threw a "Hail Mary" into the end zone into a crowd of several receivers, which officials ruled a catch by Golden Tate. However, the Packers' M.D. Jennings seemed to have control of the ball. Officials ruled after about ten minutes that it was a catch, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 upset victory.

Obama called the Packers-Seahawks game "terrible" while walking into the White House Tuesday, according to the pool report. "I've been saying for months, we've gotta get our refs back," he said.

In a labor dispute involving the NFL Players' Union in March 2011, President Obama said that the two sides should be able to come to an agreement without him. "I'm a big football fan, but I also think that for an industry that's making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way," he said. The two sides came to an agreement in July.

HuffPost's Dave Jamieson has written about the NFL's latest labor issues:

The referees have been locked out since early June, when negotiations over a new contract between the National Football League Referees Association and the NFL broke down. Although there are many issues at play, the referees' union has said the main sticking point is pensions: The league wants to freeze the defined-benefit pension plans they've had since the 1970s and switch them to less-attractive 401k's.

A lockout is different from a strike -- the referees did not choose to stop working, they were forced to do so by management as a bargaining tactic.

"The key is the pension issue," Scott Green, the head of the referees' union, recently told HuffPost. "A lot of our guys have made life-career decisions based on assuming that pension would be there."

The NFL is an extremely profitable enterprise, raking in about $9 billion per year. The average team is valued at about $1.1 billion, according to Forbes. Still, league commissioner Roger Goodell recently told HuffPost that pensions are disappearing for American workers in general, and that most people don't enjoy what the referees have.

This story has been updated to include President Obama's comment on the Packers game, per a White House pool report.

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