LHSAA's letter to LHSOA

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    I’ve got to say, after reading Eddie Bonine’s letter, I don’t see what is so unreasonable about LHSAA’s offer. At least now we have some sort of commitment from LHSAA in writing and they make some fairly significant concessions.

    Just saying…


    The problem is Mr. Bonine has no authority to make any promises. I have not doubt he is a man of his word. However the principals association has made multiple promises over the years and have delivered on none of them. We(Officials) have done everything and more that the principals have ask for. The principals have done virtually nothing that they have promised. So in my opinion unless Mr. Bonine calls a special session and there is a vote of the principals we have nothing.


    Agree with Fletcher. We as a state must stand with each other and not cave. If we fall now we are doomed forever


    I really, really like a lot of Mr. Bonine’s ideas. I think he and Keith Alexander have worked hard at listening to our concerns and trying to respond to them. The problem with Mr. Bonine’s proposal is two-fold: 1) He says no changes will be made until 2016-17. That’s just not acceptable. All changes need to be made effective immediately for the upcoming year. 2) Like Fletcher said, he has no voting power. No matter how hard he works to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this, the principals still have to vote to give the pay raises. They’re the ones who wield the power, not the commissioner.

    My biggest question is, why can’t the LHSAA vote to change its bylaws on this issue? The principals will have to vote one way or the other. Why not get them together to vote on changing the bylaws to allow for us to have contracts. That seems like the solution we should be pursuing.


    The “work on the current contract and trust us, we’ll work it out” manta has been proven not to be trusted. The principals have had many opportunities to fix this issue for all officials and have blown it off for years. Worse yet was the principals actually taking pay away from baseball / softball and then giving an ovation following the vote. I’m just a football guy, but this overlaps us all at some point. I myself don’t think I’m underpaid greatly like other sports, but I do believe it’s important to stand up as one and get this thing right for all of us. Because, if not, we are going to be here again in a couple of years for one sport or the other. It’s time to fix the process for the future so that officiating issues aren’t unilaterally in the hands of principals decide our fate. They have failed utilizing the current process.

    Mr. Bonine seems to be a reasonable man who understands the issues…. as his quote earlier this week “it will be the same old song and dance” suggested, he is frustrated with the situation. And personally I believe he’s upset that he can’t step in and fix it and work with the parameters of the reasonable LHSOA proposed contract. Mr. Bonine’s hands are tied by the principals who generally have no clue about why the increase or the value of the service that they are paying for …. in their minds “its just more money.” They have ignored their own ad-hoc committee’s who admitted a need to improve officials fees and have suggested pay increases.

    When you have a special trained job and a small pool of people who are willing to work that job, like officials are, the CEO of a company understands the value that the employee brings and the importance of taking care of that employee in some financial aspect….because without that employee, the company can’t function. So the CEO is attentive to keeping the employee happy so they don’t lose them. The principals have missed that point the last few years….they have treated us as minimum wage, untrained and replaceable employees.

    There must be a better process that officials can trust will continue pay management without some special session or threaten a strike to get a raise.

    Put in a contract that has small increases every 2-4 years. School teachers, coaches and principals get an increase virtually every year based on experience. Why is it that officials can’t get the same respect of some sort?

    I know there are other aspects than the failed process, respect and game fees, but we as officials are reasonable….. it’s not a hard thing to fix if not improve to get us back on the field…. but it can’t keep waiting til a committee looks at it and decides to do something next year. We’ve played that game.

    • This reply was modified 7 years ago by SForester.
    Bryan Greenwood

    The letter the LHSAA presented is frankly an insult. I have no doubt that when Mr. Bonine wrote it, he knew it would be soundly rejected. In the weeks meeting prior to the letter, he was willing to look at a longer term agreement than one year with another pay increase 3 years down the road. He completely flipped that position with the letter. As he stated in the press conference “what I offered today was the same old song and dance officials have heard for years”. No doubt in my mind that he absolutely KNEW that we would reject this.

    Under this letter, he would lock a new raise in until 2020. That would basically mean a 5 dollar raise in a 9 year period.

    While the money is a part of this, it by no means is the focus of the LHSOA. We want and have a right to have a say in the things that affect officials. From our requirements, security, assignments, travel, pay, uniform, etc.

    Right now we can ask, but may or may not be heard.

    The system as is, is set up for failure over and over again. This system requires principals to vote a fee increase on themselves in order for us to get a raise. A thirty year history shows they have NEVER been willing to do this in a January meeting.

    I agree with Sam Forester that now is the time to change this forever. Last year they cut the pay of baseball and softball umpires in rain out games with absolutely no debate on the issue. They never once had an official or principal or anyone stand before them to explain that many of our guys take comp time at work, leave their family activities to make it to a baseball or softball game. If the game is rained out they want to give you travel pay only. For the past twenty plus years you received travel and a half game fee. You say well I’m football not baseball, YOU MAY BE NEXT!

    All officials are in the same boat. If we don’t unite across this state to say we’ve had enough, then we may as well say goodbye to a profession that requires integrity and pride. Because the only ones who will be left are those guys who want to make a quick dollar. The ones who are fine with less training,less study, and less professionalism. I do not want to be part of that group!



    While I agree with you on most of the points, I do have a few problems with the position LHSOA is taking in this matter.

    I don’t see his letter as being an insult as it had some good ideas to build on. The camp for one should be spaced out to maybe every 3 or 4 years, the coaches taking the test and passing it(although I am not sure how they could keep a coach from being on the sidelines just because they didn’t pass the test) and the evaluation of officials to determine who does championship games instead of being picked are all good ideas.

    The other thing is that fact that LHSOA has not once offered to do the contracts for longer that one year. If I was the principals, I would not agree to a one year contract as that means next year, you can raise the prices and they would not have any say in that. What we are offering is to do the same thing to them that they have been doing to us. A negotiation requires compromises in order to get a deal that both sides can live with and work together.

    I understand about some sports wanting to work at the same rate because they don’t have a problem with it. The question becomes, what is LHSOA going to do to the associations and/or officials that work without a contract if it comes down to that. If you have associations that are going to work then that will cause greater problems than what we have now.

    I have proposed that we make a deal with the principals on another post where we agree to this year’s rates as long as they agree in January to vote out all by-laws dealing with officials pay and control and that it be negotiated between LHSOA and the LHSAA executive committee for a contract for all sports with the schools not having to deal with the contracts except to pick which association they will use. The pay and length of contract for the pay and other items is with the LHSAA executive committee and LHSOA representatives. I would make this deal public with print and TV media so that if they don’t do what they agreed to, then after the January vote, there would be no games called until a contract is signed and I would put in, that the new contract would then have the officials of all sports in the state of Louisiana, will be the highest paid official in the country. Whatever the highest state rate for officials, Louisiana would be more. This will make sure they know the penalty for breaking the promise and that it is public so everyone will know where the fault lays.

    This is the deal we should be presenting them with, as it is what we are really striving for, which is breaking the principals control over us.


    Ideally camps should be every year but that is not realistic. 4 years is to long in my opinion. I could live with 3 but like the every other year process.

    I am not sure what the coaches taking the test would do. Most of the coaches complaints is about judgement so I think the coaches taking the test is just window dressing

    An evaluation process during the season or just the playoffs is a great idea. However it takes $$$. We can’t even get a $5 pay raise how are we going to get an observer program funded!!

    We have to walk before we can crawl with the contract length. The principals are worried about how they will be treated with the aspect to cost. I can assure you and them that they will be treated significantly better than they have treated us. There is a significant lack of trust so this at least initially has to be year to year.

    There will obviously be some people and associations that will work. You can bet those people will be the first ones in like to get there pay raise. We can not force them to work. That is their choice even if me and many other don’t agree with them. And yes it will probably cause some animosity.

    As far as taking a deal and HOPING the principals will pass something in January is not going to happen. We have been promised over and over and over again that the principals would address the issue and it always failed. Goes back to the trust situation. We can’t trust that they will pass anything much less something that is acceptable in January. I don’t think the issue can be put off any longer.


    Well my deal is based on the fact that if it is not done then it stops then and the price goes up even more then what we would have agreed to before and also puts it out there so that it is public knowledge that they have to fulfill there part of the deal. The deal is what we are offering not what they are offering and if they fail to live up to it then the penalty is imposed and we will not move off of that.
    Expecting them to sign a one year deal is not going to happen and that is the problem in the first place as they for see that next year the rates will go up again. That is why the contract has to be longer. Why would they trust us to treat them better then what they have done to us? If anything, they will think that we will just keep going up because they think that we have been mistreated by them for years and that we will be taking revenge for all those past years. They don’t even think they are mistreating us now but they think we think that and will get back at them. So a longer contract is needed. You can assure all you want but they will not believe you anymore than you believe them. Both sides have gone past that point. My deal is that we give up something and they have to give up something but this time it comes with a penalty if they fail to live up to it. That is how deals get worked out.

    The biggest point to my deal however is that they no longer have complete control. It would be shared by both sides. Neither side is going to live with the other having complete control. If they can’t accept that deal proposal, then we go back to need a contract now instead of next year. Actually you need to crawl before you walk instead of walking before crawling as once you walk why would you need to crawl that often when you can walk. They will vote out all by-laws that deal with official pay and requirements so that it can be negotiated going forward and we give them a year so that they can budget for it as it is too late now for this coming year. That is a fair proposal and deal. If we make it then it is not them promising to do something and then failing to fulfill but instead it is them living up to what we proposed or paying the price by not living up to it.

    The proposal they had was that the assignment sec would have to do the evaluation and they would be submitted so that the problem of the same people going based on picks alone would be stopped. That would not cost money but require the assignment sec to evaluate and put it into writing.

    As far as the coaches, most of them don’t know the rules so they don’t know anything about the judgment of those calls. If they knew the rules then that would be reduced. A lot of them think things in the NFL and college rule book apply to us. That is because they don’t know the rules. Some years ago one teams coaches took the test and one of them barely made over a 70 and the rest fluked. While you may have some coaches that know the rules most of them don’t so if they did it would be less complaining about them.


    When pay raises for officials were on the ballot in January 2011, the votes by the principals were overwhelmingly against the officials (as was the case in January 2015). Several basketball associations in the state had a “work-stoppage” in 2011 which caused cancellations of many basketball games. An agreement was reached that the associations would go back to work and the principals would have a special called meeting in June to vote on the pay raises again. A quorum of 97 principals (out of approximately 350+ principals) was needed in order for that meeting to convene. The number of principals that showed up was 105, barely over the minimum. While that vote was overwhelmingly positive for a pay raise for the officials, the vote also attached the requirement of attending a sanctioned LHSOA camp every two years for approved and certified levels. This requirement, particularly for football, would almost negate any raise an official would receive.

    In addition, at the June 2011 meeting, the principals created a sports officiating committee for LHSOA to “negotiate” with. Mr. Paul LaRosa appeared before that committee in the fall of 2014. After several hours of discussions for raises in ALL sports, the $5 raise per official for basketball and $15 per crew for volleyball were presented to the LHSAA executive committee to place on the January 2015 principals convention agenda.

    By the minutes of the that convention, the results of the votes were:
    Fee Increase for Basketball. Failed 140-­‐89
    Fee Increase for Volleyball. Failed 135-­‐110

    In addition, a third item on the agenda, No Game fees for Baseball/Softball
    Rainouts, Passed 185-­‐73.

    To quote Mr. Paul LaRosa in various news outlets, “I was there (at the LHSAA meeting) and when the principals voted to take away the partial payment and just pay baseball and softball officials’ mileage, there was applause.”

    The negotiation between LHSOA and LHSAA took place by the methods the principals created and that method failed the officials as evident by the votes in January 2015. In addition, several baseball and softball associations were ready to follow the same course of action that basketball associations did in 2011 – they were not going to umpire games this past spring. They were convinced by LHSOA leadership to umpire the games and the rainout pay would be addressed in the summer. To now say that we as officials will work the 2015-2016 school year under the same fees as this past year would be going back on the word that the umpires received. One of the highly negative aspects of the basketball work-stoppage in 2011 was that the officials knew what the fees were for that year and agreed to work for those fees. So now, LHSOA is addressing that aspect by stating we will not start the 2015-2016 school year under the old pay scale and old system.

    The times of negotiating with a system that has failed officials over and over again should be through. While I would rather officiate games than sit home, we all have to stand together if we want any improvement at – united we stand, divided we fall.


    We had a proposal the last time we had the pay raise issue to increase $2 every other year. That got shot down quickly and was never discussed again. You have some points about a multi-year deal. However this years proposal is about changing the process and not just the fees. I think after this year we can talk about multiple year contract or some revolving door raise. We would have never gotten to this point if the principals would have had any foresight.

    They make a issue about getting their budget straight and I don’t believe that for one second. I am betting most don’t even have budgets. So the fee changes are about loss of control and not about the increase in cost.

    They knew when the vote failed to pass a raise in Jan 15 that their was going to be some push back from us. They did not have one principals stand up at the Jan meeting and say anything about the raise. So this new pay proposal should not have been surprising to their leadership. They should not have been blind sided.

    We have done everything they have asked for in the past. Camps, testing, ect and they have not budged. So our leadership and that include me think enough is enough. They had their chance to negotiate and shot it down. So at least for a year they are in a bind. And in my opinion it is their own doing.

    The AS are supposed to have been evaluating personnel for years. Some do and some don’t. The idea was to have independent observers and I think that is the best way to observe but unfortunately that is not free. What you are talking about above will not change anything in my opinion.

    I just don’t agree about the coaches. Their agenda and our agenda for the game are different. So when they argue with us it is more about swaying us in a direction than ignorance. Yes there is some ignorance but the preponderance of the bench jockeying is for them to gain an advantage. So I see only very minimal influence by having the coaches take the test. Like I said earlier I think that is just window dressing. Just my opinion.

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