Negotiators for the National Football League and the NFL Players Association will return to the bargaining table Friday in New York, three days before the union's executive committee is to meet to set a strike deadline.
Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFLPA, said the union "will respond point by point" to management's last proposal, presented here last week, "and then get on to the real issues."
Friday's meeting, at the Doral Hotel in midtown Manhattan, was set up following an exchange of messages Monday and yesterday between Garvey and Jack Donlan, executive director of the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm.
The players association also said yesterday that Monday's strike-deadline meeting, originally scheduled for Chicago, would be moved to New York. The players have said they will strike after the second, third or fourth weekend of the season if agreement is not reached.
Garvey said the players are sticking to their basic contract demand that the NFL divert 55 percent of its gross income to a trust fund that would pay player salaries on a seniority-based scale with performance incentive bonuses.
But he also said the union has five major concerns, which he listed as immediate and substantial wage increases, guarantee for the players of a fair share of future revenues, elimination of wage inequities, elimination of economic incentives to cut older players because of their higher salaries and incentive bonuses for outstanding individual and team performances.
Donlan says the NFL will never agree to a pay scale tied to a percentage of gross income and says the league's last offer was close to a final offer.
That offer would would raise player-minimum salaries and ease movement of players from one team to another in search of better salaries. It also offered a bonus plan under which players would receive bonuses of $10,000 a year for every year in the NFL, up to a maximum of $60,000, within 15 days after the contract is signed.