JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – The kickoff of Western New York’s high school athletic season is in jeopardy, as regional referee officials have been unable to reach agreement over a pay dispute.
The Buffalo News reports that referees from across Section VI are not planning to return to the field from Monday, August 29 to Saturday, September 10. Their current work contract expires on Wednesday, August 31.
The sticking point, according to the High School Sports Officials of Western New York, lies with Section VI, who is unwilling to increase referees pay in times of inflation even after their pay was frozen for two years.
Officials sought a $4 raise in the first year of a six-year agreement, however say they were only offered $2 raise with no opportunity to expand the figure.
Currently, referees say those in Western New York are among the lowest-paid in the state.
Section VI President and Southwestern School Superintendent Maureen Donahue spoke on the dispute for the first time Friday, saying in part, “it is the position of Section VI not to negotiate contracts in public. The appearance of a potential work stoppage will negatively impact our member schools and student-athletes. We continue to value our officials in the service they provide to our student-athletes.”