Labor dispute could delay high school fall sports season in Suffolk
A labor dispute between Section XI and its referees could delay the high school fall sports season in Suffolk County.
The President's Council of Suffolk County Officials rejected a proposed contract between Section XI and its referees for the upcoming season.
"It's sad, like it's our senior season. We've been looking forward to it forever," says student athlete Madelyn Hoisik. She and teammate Samantha Maucere are worried their final soccer season at West Babylon High School may be sidelined due to the lack of referees.
"A delayed season would be very annoying. Not having the referees is something we shouldn't even cross our minds," Samantha says.
Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, said he was disappointed the proposed three-year deal was voted down.
"In our eyes, the negotiating teams' eyes, it was a very fair and equitable arrangement for them and kept them as the highest paid officials in New York state and the Northeast," Combs says.
Suffolk sports officials, however, disagree. Marc Negrin issued a statement on behalf of The Presidents' Council of Suffolk County Officials, stating in part, "The Officials of Suffolk County are strongly advocating for fair and equitable fees for ALL Officials in ALL Sports and at ALL Levels. We believe we need to incorporate fair and equitable fees based on objective criteria such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the recent cost of living increases we are all experiencing here in Suffolk County."
The rejected contract means all fall high school sports in Suffolk may be delayed, which could jeopardize student athletes' chances of competing at the state level.
"It's heartbreaking for all of the work they already put in, especially by our seniors. This could be their last opportunity to compete in a state championship," says Deb Ferry, Half Hollow Hills athletic director.
Both sides are back at the negotiating table to try to hammer out a new contract before the season starts at the end of August. Student athletes are urging them to come to an agreement.
The executive director of Section XI says they are trying to recruit referees from Nassau County and the Catholic leagues to fill in gaps while they work on negotiations.