With less than a week to go before the union's strike deadline, negotiations to reach a new collective bargaining agreement are expected to resume late today on a counterproposal the NFL Players Association will present to management at midday.
In another development, the president of the union that represents television directors, producers and technicians said his members probably would support an NFLPA strike by refusing to work network games and by joining the players' picket lines.
"I certainly would give that very serious consideration," said Arthur Kent, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 11 based in New York. "I think NABET would support them fully. They have been very supportive of us, and I'd think we would give them any support they want . . ."
About 2,800 NBC writers, producers and technicians represented by NABET are in their third month of a strike. In support of NABET, NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw refused to appear on NBC over the weekend.
In Washington yesterday, John Jones, a spokesman for the NFL Management Council, said his group is supposed to receive the union's counterproposal at 1 p.m. and that executive director Jack Donlan wants a few hours to review it before negotiations resume at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.
The NFLPA has set a strike deadline for 12:01 a.m. next Tuesday or when the Monday night game concludes if agreement is not reached on a new three-year contract to replace the five-year deal that expired Aug. 31. The owners, in turn, last week voted to try, should there be a strike, to field teams with anyone who will cross picket lines.
Details of the union's latest proposal were not available last night as NFLPA staff worked into the evening to complete the proposal "which we feel will go a long way toward settlement," according to Upshaw.
The two sides discussed the management proposal for 11 1/2 hours Saturday and Sunday, the first negotiating sessions since Sept. 2 and the first written proposal from either side since each side offered its initial position in April. Donlan and Upshaw agreed on only one facet during those talks: they resulted in no progress.
It was the first management offer that had figures included, and the union said the offer amounted to a takeback of $88.3 million over the life of the contract, resulting in savings of more than $1 million per team annually and costing each of the NFL's 1,600 players about $18,000 annually.
Michael Duberstein, the NFLPA's director of research, said he based those figures on current contracts. Management's proposal to initiate an entry-level wage scale for first- and second-year players would save the owners $95 million, he said.
The total takeaways, according to the NFLPA, is $136.1 million while the management proposal called for $47.8 million in improvements.
Donlan disputed those figures, saying they were at least $88.3 million off. Staff writer Norman Chad contributed to this report.