Open Letter to USAWP

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Open Letter to USAWP

Postby Moderator » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:57 pm

Published with the permission of the author.

April 28, 2015

To: The Assigners of USWP,
CCA and SOPAC Zones

Re: PARITY

Dear Assigners,

This letter is in regards to USWP pay policies. First a bit of history so we are all on the same page.

As you know a number of years ago, our pay was reduced without notice or agreement by the rank and file. What was imposed upon us was a caste system based upon our “rated” levels. Levels have to do with abilities, and are based on evaluations. Level 1 is the lowest (entry level), level 2 is the norm for most referees, level three is the college level of confidence, level 4 is the ASUA level and level 5 is FINA, our finest.

Here is Southern California’s pay rates as follows: Level 1= $19.00 per game, level 2= $24.00 per game, level 3 = $30.00, level 4=$40.00 and level 5=$50.00 per game. In SOPAC, a dollar is removed from each referee of each game to pay the assigners; in the CCA Zone, $2.00 is removed. This extra dollar is for ref development, yet no ref benefits from any development; more on this later.
Often a level 5 is working a game with a level 2 or a 3. One receives $50.00, the other $24 or $30.00 for the same work! Remember, except in a very few cases, there are no evaluations, so the pay scale is arbitrary. It makes no sense to assign rankings which effects one’s pay scale and have men and women work the same game with un-equal pay. It is bad business, it is unethical, it is not moral and I am pretty sure illegal. As a result, many referees have quit working USWP games and many others have cut back on the number of games they are willing to work. The result of this is fewer and fewer workers resulting in longer and longer hours on the deck without relief. Personally I have worked many eight, ten, twelve and fourteen hour days with no lunch or toilet breaks. The results are illegal and dangerous working conditions.

USWP also found another way to lower our pay. We were once (for years) paid by the number of minutes in a games quarter. A game that had four, five minute quarters received less pay than the game that has four, six minutes quarters and the coveted seven minute quarters, received the highest pay. Today we receive the same pay regardless of the length of time in a game. The results of this is that the USWP tournaments are many 7 minute quarter games. USWP has also decided that every team, before every game, has to have their ID checked by a referee, regardless of how many times it has been done before. You just took away our rest time at the half mark. California is a hot state, we work in very hot weather on hot cement decks with no shade for long hours, often without food and water. Again, unsafe working conditions.

But I am not done by any means. Next up is unfair, unprofessional, disrespectful and not acceptable. This is in reference to the speed in which we are paid for services rendered. It takes months! The longest I have had to wait was nine months. This weekend I received a notice that my pay was ready to be retrieved from Ref Pay (Arbiter) after having waited close to two months. Remember we are classified as Independent Contractors (IC). As such we have a right to establish our pay rate and payment terms—not USWP!

Moving forward. The next step taken by USWP was the removal of premium pay to the referee for working games alone.

We are back to CCA taking an extra dollar without the rank and file approval (as with all of the above, we have been given no voice). In regards to referee development— what development? We want that dollar back—remember we are IC’s, or are we?

For every action there is a reaction. In this case the reaction was and continues to be referees cutting back or quitting altogether. I spoke with six rank and file members this past week all of them are fed up and will do one or the other, quit or cutback. But this is not all. Lets take a look at other areas and what they are receiving:
Up in Northern California near Sacramento level 1=$23.00, Level 2= $30.00, Lever 3=$34.00, levels 4 and 5, $40 and $50.00

(Underscore means they are paid higher than the referee in SO CA)

NorthWest/Hawaii Zone:
Rookie =$17.00*, Level 1=$21.00, level 2=$30.00, level 3=$34.00, levels 4 and 5, $32.00 and $35.00 per game. * We do not have a rookie level.

Pacific Zone:
Rookie=$16.00*, level 1=$22.00, level 2=$29.00, level 3=$33.00 levels 4 and 5=$40.00 and $48.00.

We do not begrudge a Zone’s autonomy even when it comes to pay scales but both SoPac and CCA jointly went with the pay reductions that USWP forced upon us; this we do resent. As IC’s we have a right to have our input heard and followed.

I can go on but I think you get the picture but here is a known fact: we in SOCAL represent 80% of all water polo games. We are told that we are the best of the lot yet our pay is substandard as shown in the above examples. We work most of the best teams in the nation, yet, we make less than other zones.

Why you, why have I sent you this letter? You are the assigners, I consider you mid-level; management. You are paid to assign and you know that all of the above is true and factual plus you are all having problems getting referees to work games. I have also been asked by numerous rank and file members to deliver their (our) message. We have solutions to the above:

1. In regards to level pay rates. Do away with it, we all get the same pay for the same work. We suggest $35.00 per game, $40.00 if working alone.
2. All tournament games have six minute quarters. The younger age group and novice can be five minute quarter. Five minute quarter games have the rate of $32.00 per and $36 for the lone ref. If they must go to 7 minute quarters, then it is $45.00 per game, per referee and $50.00 for the solo ref.
3. To insure prompt payment, all clubs must pay for their slots in a tournament two weeks prior to its start. All of those funds that are allocated for the cost of referee must be in a trust account that is controlled by the Zone at least one week prior to the start of the tournament, or no referee will be supplied— no exceptions.
4. Maximum wait time for receiving pay is ten working days. If longer 10% fine is added for each week late, the fee’s collected goes directly to the referee.
5. Arbiter (RefPay) is an experience that has failed the organization. Drop it for Zone control as mentioned in item #3.
6. Checking team identifications to be done by the tournament host. We have enough on our plates.
7. Mandatory breaks every three hours, with a forty minute lunch break after five and one half hours. Ten minute breaks after each game.
8. No more ten, twelve, thirteen or fourteen hour days for any two referees.
9. Too many large tournaments are bunched up and played the same weekend thus leading to very long hours. Zone must manage and spread out these tournaments.
10. The establishment of a board of fourteen rank and file members to negotiate all matters that pertain to our pay, working conditions, assigner and other items that relate to the referee.
11. No member of this board can be from USWP management, nor an assigner, nor a board member of any water polo organization. Example: elected or assigned member of SCAF or any and all Area Federations board. there must be two elected members from each area. Example: 2 from OC; 2, from LA, etc. These members will chose their President of the Board by internal election, can be from the elected members or chosen from the outside ranks. Three meetings per physical year, with major USWP decision maker(s). All costs are the responsibility of USWP.
12. Suggestions in the body of this letter concerning pay rate, CCA over charging assigner fees, leveling fine’s for late payment, working games solo and increase pay for the various length of games need to be addressed and corrected.

In summation: on any level you look at it, parity is over due. The issues I have mentioned must be addressed in a positive and quick matter. I urge you to talk among yourselves and take these important matters to the heads of the zones and beyond for the problems I have outlined are not going to go away. Questions, feel free to contact me at will.

Sincerely yours,

Randy King, USWP member

sidelineview
Posts: 569
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:26 pm

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby sidelineview » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:29 pm

Some random observations:

One of the theories behind "seniority" pay was the wishful thinking that local tournaments could draw senior officials to their tournaments --- even if the tournament was a 14U level of play. Hint: most top-level officials don't need the money and definitely don't want to work 8 games a day....in other words, this strategy has failed.

The other senior-pay theory that has failed is that the lower priced officials would be working lower division play - which equals shorter quarters. Nice idea, but that is not what is happening (as noted by the OP).

I disagree on dropping RefPay. The lag in timely payment is not a RefPay issue. The lag is due to either late payments by the tournament participants, slow turnaround by the tournament host/sponsor, slow turnaround by the assignor/verification or a combination of those factors. Keep RefPay but fix the human delay factors. In real life work environments, standard accounts payable/receivable terms are Net 30 days before interest and/or late payment fees. Why should water polo be exempt from that?

What the zone boards and the tournament organizers do not recognize is that (even in SoCal) there is not enough referees to cover all the games. When you hear of single referees working all day without a break at one of the biggest winter tournaments of the year (who bring referees from both North and South) - that should be the signal that something is wrong. This practice creates a safety issue for the participants, as well as the officials. The zone referees must stand up in front of the zone boards and tell them that they can only assign "X" number of slots per day. That slot number should be based upon a minimum of 3 officials per location, working the standard 2-on-1-off schedule. What the coaches don't want to hear (but need to be responsible in affirming this concern) is that some zones may have to either limit the number of pools playing on any given day or that some tournaments will have to be officiated by coaches (no officials).

An example - say that on average there are 30 officials available on a daily basis (either through all-day availability or a combination of officials who have part-day availability). That means only 10 pools can be staffed. It should not be 15 pools with 2 officials working all day or 20 pools where some pools have 1 official all day. Even if the game is 12U, the single official who has been on the deck since 8am is going to be fatigued at some point in the day --- and will miss something as generic as a ball under or something worse as an elbow to the temple. We are long-time aquatics participants, coaches, referees and managers...would we set up a lifeguard to work all day without a break? I don't think so. Why are we doing this to officials?

Russ Thompson
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:46 pm

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby Russ Thompson » Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:13 pm

The failure to understand is because USAWP and other conferences don't seem to understand that 95% of the referees don't referee for the money. The money is meant to offset the pain and suffering a little. My accountant asked me why I would waste my valuable time for the pittance of what refereeing polo pays. I said, because I enjoy it. At one point in my career I cared about being recognized and evaluated and climbing the ranks. Most importantly, the camaraderie and friendships that are developed last a lifetime. Read my interview this month of Marte Salmi and you will begin to understand that referees are close and for the most part they care about each other and they share a common love for the sport that gave them so much.

The folks that manage referee assignments, that think throwing $50 a game out to a senior referee is going to motivate them - are smoking a lot of weed and should probably move to Colorado and find a better strain so that their brains function a little better. No referee whistles for the money, and if they do - you should watch them more closely. Ask Mark Koganov how much money he makes flying to Budapest and back (24 hours of flight time) for 2 games? Ask any senior official and you'll soon discover that the top referees actually PAY to referee. The more prestigious the position, the more they pay. So dangling $50 at a top referee and expecting a result was doomed the moment it was conceived!

It isn't money that motivates, but lack of decent game fees can most certainly demotivate. USAWP also has a long history of being cheap and working referees like a rented mule. I stopped doing USAWP events for that reason.

In the end, USAWP exists to generate as much money as is humanly possible for the top few players in the USA and for the salaries in USAWP (most for the latter). No one really cares about the ref making $19 a game. They care only enough only to put someone with a pulse on the deck to whistle a game because they have to keep their customers happy.

Russ Thompson
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:46 pm

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby Russ Thompson » Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:23 pm

sidelineview wrote:The lag in timely payment is not a RefPay issue. The lag is due to either late payments by the tournament participants, slow turnaround by the tournament host/sponsor, slow turnaround by the assignor/verification or a combination of those factors. Keep RefPay but fix the human delay factors. In real life work environments, standard accounts payable/receivable terms are Net 30 days before interest and/or late payment fees. Why should water polo be exempt from that?


I have been CEO of a corporation for nearly 26 years. The fact that USAWP doesn't or can't collect fees has NOTHING to do with paying sub-contractors. The bill is due the moment the tournament is over. If USAWP never collects a dime from the teams it should have zero impact on the outstanding liability to the ref.

sidelineview
Posts: 569
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:26 pm

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby sidelineview » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:09 pm

I don't disagree at all. Just one of the typical excuses we hear each year.

I've never understood why USAWP, JC water polo (Calif.) and certain 4-year NCAA conferences can't put on their collective "big boy pants" and do their jobs in a professional manner. Would love to see how these "professional" managers would react if their own paychecks were delayed by weeks or months.

lvthegame
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:32 pm
How are you connected to water polo?: fan

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby lvthegame » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:11 pm

I had no idea. This reflects very poorly on USAWP, to say the least.

I will say that this helps clear up what has been a wonder to me for a while: why is the flagship national tournament populated with such sub-par refereeing? The blatantly worst officiating I have seen (an entire game replayed at 6 am the next morning because the incorrect number of minutes were played for each of the first two quarters, a "goal" where the ball bounced off the top bar, brutality call for a push-off to start a counter, etc., etc.) were made at J.O.s. Now I can see how these anomalies could happen.

This letter has the air of credibility; there are many easily corroborated claims. If the claims in the letter are true, then USAWP is guilty of disconnected, unserving, greedy leadership.

Russ Thompson
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:46 pm

Re: Open Letter to USAWP

Postby Russ Thompson » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:13 pm

Ask yourself who, among senior referees, would ever referee JO's? Referees wanting to be top referees MUST referee JO's or their career advancement is effectively over so there will be and are excellent officials at the JO's. That said, the sheer number of games and the abysmal rate of financial remuneration causes many referees with half of a brain so say - no way! I have way better things to do with my time.

As a former Zone Referee Chair and assigner I can tell you that USAWP counts on salivating referees who want to advance so that they don't have to pay them, or pay for travel etc.

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