During the NFL’s nonsensical lockout, I didn’t hesitate to bang on the owners for fabricating a dire financial situation and unfairly cutting wages or laying off employees in the front office.
So it’s only fair now to inform you that at least one of those owners is trying to make amends.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who instituted across-the-board payroll cuts to all non-player employees in the team’s office in the form of two-week furloughs, will reimburse wages, the AJC has learned. On the same day as the official end to the lockout, Blank sent an email to staff members that read in part: “Any deductions to your paychecks during the lockout related to unpaid vacation days we instituted will be repaid to you.”
Team president Rich McKay and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are scheduled to meet with employees Tuesday to make the decision official. Employees at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation office also will receive back pay for their previous salary cuts. Blank, who had frozen wages during the lockout, also plans to implement wages, retroactive to March 1.
It’s a classy makeup call by Blank, negating a bad decision that never should have happened. Hopefully, the NFL office and other teams that cut wages will follow Blank’s lead.
UPDATE: Per ProFootballTalk.com, at least three teams — the New York Jets, Miami and Kansas City — have joined the Falcons in giving post-lockout back pay.
I referenced the furloughs last week when NFL owners passed a resolution to approve the CBA. For what it’s worth, I’ve been told by more than a few Falcons employees they were glad the news of the cuts was brought to light. When I asked Blank at the NFL owners meetings if he had plans to pay back employees for lost wages, he said only: “Well, that’s a personal thing for me and our associates.”
At least this story ends on a good note.
By Jeff Schultz
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