The Buffalo Bills players have voted unanimously in favor of recertifying as a players union.
Bills safety and player representative George Wilson said Saturday that all of his teammates signed a ballot in favor of recertification a day earlier when the team reported to training camp in suburban Rochester.
The NFL Players Association decertified in March at the start of the NFL lockout. With the lockout lifted last week, the union must recertify in order to negotiate the final few terms — such as benefits and the league’s drug policy — of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Wilson said the plan is to have the union recertified “before the weekend is out.”
Once the CBA is formally ratified, veteran free agents will be allowed to join their teams in practice.
Referring to them as “prudent preparations for the possibility of a work stoppage,” chief operating officer Russ Brandon said Wednesday the Bills have established a program of cuts that “focuses on shared sacrifice.” The comments were made in a statement released by the team to The Associated Press.
“We have, for some time, been very upfront and transparent with our staff so that they too could make prudent preparations,” Brandon said. “Every employee in the organization will be affected.”
The percentage of the cut will be based on salary, with the highest-paid employees receiving a larger cut in pay.
“We plan no layoffs as a result of the situation at this time,” Brandon said. “Our hope is that our advanced planning will allow us to avoid them in the future as well.”
The Buffalo News first reported the team’s pay cuts on Wednesday.
The announcement of pay cuts comes two days after the team sent a letter to its season-ticket holders in which Brandon said the Bills will continue their daily business operations in preparing for the season.
Brandon wrote that he shared fans’ disappointment regarding the work stoppage, which began Friday after the NFL Players Association decertified. The NFL followed by locking out its players.
The Bills are coming off a 4-12 finish and will have the No. 3 pick in the draft next month.
NFL teams have varied in establishing employee plans during the work stoppage. Some teams have announced pay cuts, while others are having staff take unpaid furloughs. owner Jim Isray said this week that his employees will not be affected.