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  #1 (permalink)  
Old Fri Jul 26, 2019, 01:06pm
LRZ LRZ is offline
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PIAA & Insurance

This is a FYI alert for Pennsylvania/PIAA officials.

If you are a PIAA umpire or referee, you may have received an email from PIAA that it has discontinued insurance (without, of course, a compensatory reduction in dues). With the fall sports season just several weeks, we've just begun hearing that schools (some schools, at least) will not hire officials without insurance, and my soccer chapter is scrambling to make sense of this and how to deal with it. PIAA has provided a link to NFHS insurance (through a group called National Federation of Officials Association), but that seems like PIAA and NFHS collusion, to keep our dollars "in-house."

Anyway, winter and spring sports chapters have more time to figure this out, but I suggest starting now.

Last edited by LRZ; Fri Jul 26, 2019 at 03:01pm.
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Old Fri Jul 26, 2019, 09:34pm
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Join NASO.

MTD, Sr.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 01:46am
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Take a stand.
1. Refuse to pay for the insurance which you are no longer receiving. It is fine if the state association no longer wishes to have officials procure their insurance through that office, but they can’t continue to charge for it. Insist that your dues are reduced by the proper amount or have your officials not pay any of it. This hits the state office in the pocketbook.

2. What does your contract say with the state? Is there a timeline or notice period which must be given when changes are made?

3. You have several options for obtain your own insurance. NASO, NFHS individual membership, NFHS group plan (at a discount, inquire), private insurance from a company, etc. Find out what the requirements are where you officiate and who sets those levels. Is it the state office? The schools? The school district? What is needed $1M in liability? Negligence coverage? Personal medical?

4. If your group informs all of the schools that PIAA dropped your insurance and your officials may not now have the necessary time to obtain outside coverage, what are they going to do? Are there other officials in your area which they could use for soccer? If not, would they cancel the contests? You have leverage. Think about your angles and how you wish to proceed.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 10:06am
LRZ LRZ is offline
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All good suggestions, Nevadaref, all of which occurred to me, as well. But there are problems, probably insurmountable at this point, especially considering how large a state we are and the difficulties in getting people to consider their mutual interests and join a boycott or union.

We're only two weeks away from the start of soccer; we're a big state, with disparate elements (east/west, urban/rural), and a lot of anti-union animus. Just getting definitive answers to the questions in #3 would take longer than we soccer officials have.

As you may know, we had a union briefly, formed by lacrosse referees around Pittsburgh, until that was shot down several months ago by the US Court of Appeals for DC. Perhaps not coincidentally, PIAA announced its insurance decision shortly after that, citing, in part, the court's ruling.

MTD, I looked at NASO: $116 a year, a lot of money. The NFHS-affiliated association is $35, or $25 with 50+ members, but I rather not give money to NFHS.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 01:00pm
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NASO offers a discounted rate to groups. My football association is a member of NASO, so I pay a discounted rate of $79 to be a NASO member through it. In this manner I receive liability insurance, excess medical insurance, and the other benefits of NASO membership for a reduced rate. Perhaps your association can negotiate a group rate with NASO that isn't too onerous to your membership. The insurance purchased through NASO is good for all sports, so no need to worry about purchasing separate packages for each sport.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 02:17pm
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Can you post the e-mail you received? I couldn't find any news articles (not that I was necessarily expecting to).

This is one of those situations where a boycott would absolutely be justified.

Sadly we all know there are too many scabs in this business to make that work.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 03:47pm
LRZ LRZ is offline
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I must have deleted the first email informing us of the board decision to rescind the insurance coverage, and I also checked the PIAA website for an announcement, but did not see one. Here is the paragraph about the NFHS-allied alternative:

"Recently PIAA Board of Directors decided to eliminate insurance from officials. PIAA has been in touch with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) which provided information regarding their insurance program. Details may be found by clicking this link...."

There's not much enthusiasm around here (SE PA) for collective action, as evidenced by the lack of enthusiasm for the now-defeated union. Indeed, there would be plenty of scabs if a boycott were instituted.

If I can dig up the original email, I'll post it.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 08:23pm
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Are you talking about liability insurance or some other form of insurance?
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 09:16pm
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Officials will eat their own.

About 12 years ago, I was the UIC and assigner for a men's baseball league. I told the umpires that they need to ask for more money -- that they were underpaid and they should be looking for at least $20 more per game.

Quite a few people acted as if they were being given a favor by getting those assignments. Frankly, if only a dozen people sat out, there would've been games uncovered every day.

Then about 6-8 years ago, a local high school basketball conference decided to go back to 2-official crews at the varsity level after working 3 for a few years. When the top officials in the area said they weren't going to work the games, officials who couldn't get those assignments crawled over the backs of fellow officials to get those assignments. That experiment lasted 2 years. They went back to 3 officials and the better officials went back. I would retire before working any game of meaning in a 2-person crew. I did that for enough years.

A lot of officials simply can't stand the idea that they might better the working conditions by not working.

The PIAA must be about the most anti-official state association in the country.
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Old Sat Jul 27, 2019, 10:58pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Officials will eat their own.

About 12 years ago, I was the UIC and assigner for a men's baseball league. I told the umpires that they need to ask for more money -- that they were underpaid and they should be looking for at least $20 more per game.

Quite a few people acted as if they were being given a favor by getting those assignments. Frankly, if only a dozen people sat out, there would've been games uncovered every day.

Then about 6-8 years ago, a local high school basketball conference decided to go back to 2-official crews at the varsity level after working 3 for a few years. When the top officials in the area said they weren't going to work the games, officials who couldn't get those assignments crawled over the backs of fellow officials to get those assignments. That experiment lasted 2 years. They went back to 3 officials and the better officials went back. I would retire before working any game of meaning in a 2-person crew. I did that for enough years.

A lot of officials simply can't stand the idea that they might better the working conditions by not working.

The PIAA must be about the most anti-official state association in the country.

While the OhioHSAA has gotten better, it can be a schmuck from time to time with regard to officials.

MTD, Sr.
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Old Sun Jul 28, 2019, 09:43am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark T. DeNucci, Sr. View Post
While the OhioHSAA has gotten better, it can be a schmuck from time to time with regard to officials.

MTD, Sr.
Requiring football officials to take their books to the field to appease disgruntled coaches doesn't reflect well on them.
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Old Sun Jul 28, 2019, 09:50am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Officials will eat their own.

About 12 years ago, I was the UIC and assigner for a men's baseball league. I told the umpires that they need to ask for more money -- that they were underpaid and they should be looking for at least $20 more per game.

Quite a few people acted as if they were being given a favor by getting those assignments. Frankly, if only a dozen people sat out, there would've been games uncovered every day.

Then about 6-8 years ago, a local high school basketball conference decided to go back to 2-official crews at the varsity level after working 3 for a few years. When the top officials in the area said they weren't going to work the games, officials who couldn't get those assignments crawled over the backs of fellow officials to get those assignments. That experiment lasted 2 years. They went back to 3 officials and the better officials went back. I would retire before working any game of meaning in a 2-person crew. I did that for enough years.

A lot of officials simply can't stand the idea that they might better the working conditions by not working.

The PIAA must be about the most anti-official state association in the country.
I grow weary of the holier-than-thou rhetoric that too often gets spewed in this business.

"We owe it to the schools to work."
"The kids deserve to play."
"The schools are too poor for a $5 pay increase."

It's too bad that so many scab officials will sell their souls for any price. It makes it impossible for the good guys to make significant change.
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Old Sun Jul 28, 2019, 10:54am
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Originally Posted by SC Official View Post
Requiring football officials to take their books to the field to appease disgruntled coaches doesn't reflect well on them.

Mark, Jr., and I have never taken our rules books to the court or baseball and softball diamonds, but we always have our rules books in the dressing room for basketball or our car for baseball and softball games. If the need to go to the rules book we can retire to the quiet of the dressing room or go to the car.

MTD, Sr.
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Trumbull Co. (Warren, Ohio) Bkb. Off. Assn.
Wood Co. (Bowling Green, Ohio) Bkb. Off. Assn.
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Toledo, Ohio
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  #14 (permalink)  
Old Sun Jul 28, 2019, 03:37pm
LRZ LRZ is offline
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Below is the text of the email we received, addressing the unionization and insurance issues; that part of our yearly dues formerly for insurance will now be used by PIAA to recoup its legal expenses.

Dear Registered Sports' Official:

The purpose of this communication is to update you with information regarding your registration as a PIAA sports official. It is to this matter I will direct my comments.

As many of you may be aware for the past four years, PIAA has been opposing an adverse decision of the Regional National Labor Relations Board in Pittsburgh that classified lacrosse officials in PIAA Districts 7 & 8 as PIAA employees. The National Labor Relations Board on a 2-1 vote sustained the regional directors' decision. Two weeks ago, the District of Columbia Circuit, by a unanimous 3-0 vote, reversed this decision and held that PIAA lacrosse officials are independent contractors and are not employees of PIAA. If you would like to read this court decision, please click here. This decision confirmed our view and probably most of yours that you are independent entrepreneurial contractors who are free to solicit and reject assignments for games for various organizations based upon your own personal preferences.

In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals relied heavily upon the facts that PIAA-member schools, not PIAA, pay you during the regular season; that each season is a relatively short duration; and that PIAA does not exercise significant control over the calls made by officials during a game or contest. As the Court of Appeals noted: "Telling an official to call a game fairly is hardly akin to instructing a worker how to work."

There have been countless hours spent defending your right to maintain independent contractor status. As we move forward, it is necessary to make some adjustments to avoid an increase in your registration fees. One such action is the Board of Directors, at the recommendation of the Budget Committee, has decided to no longer provide insurance for registered officials since the actual number of claims have been minimal over the past decade, the high premium costs, and the Court's decision that providing insurance coverages may have made it more likely for you to be considered an employee. If you'd like to explore the possibility of continuing coverage, please contact the NFHS Officials Program for registration which may include certain insurances.

We would like to thank the thousands of registered sports officials that believe in the avocation of interscholastic sports officiating and your support of the mission of PIAA to provide healthy, safe and fair athletic competition for student-athletes. Your support of brother and sister sports officials as well as our member schools has not gone unnoticed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We're looking forward to seeing many of you at this year's 25th Annual Officials' Convention that will continue to highlight those of you who are so willing serve our student-athletes.
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Old Sun Jul 28, 2019, 05:22pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRZ View Post
... the Court's decision that providing insurance coverages may have made it more likely for you to be considered an employee.
Smart thinking on their part.
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