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Jets staffers may be furloughed in lockout

"I'm proud of the team," Woody Johnson said

"I'm proud of the team," Woody Johnson said outside the locker room after the Jets lost to the Steelers, 24-19. Credit: Getty Images, 2008

The Jets are preparing to have their employees take a one-week furlough each month if the NFL and the Players Association don't reach a new collective-bargaining agreement by March 4.

Should the two sides fail to hammer out an agreement by that date, roughly 96 employees on the business operations side would be required to take the weeklong unpaid leave of absence, Jets executive vice president for business operations Matt Higgins said Monday.

Higgins, who wouldn't be immune to the furlough, said the Jets simply are taking the proper steps to cover all their bases with a lockout looming. He believes going about it this way provides the best long-term solution.

"Although we fully expect an agreement to be reached, it just makes sense to plan for the worst, and this plan is about shared sacrifice across the organization to get through a period of uncertainty," Higgins said.

"Rather than a straight reduction in salary, furloughs enable us to cut back expenses but also give employees some time off," he said.

The Jets' football operations unit also would look to trim about 25 percent from its budget. That won't be an easy thing to do because they want to have their full staff in place as they prepare for April's draft - an event that will go on even if a new agreement is not reached.

As for the Giants, it doesn't appear the team has a similar contingency plan in place.

While they're not commenting publicly on what they would do in the event of a lockout, at this point the Giants don't seem to be planning any furloughs or staff cuts.

"We're prepared for any eventuality," vice president of communications Pat Hanlon said. "Mostly, we are preparing for the 2011 season."

If the Jets implement the furloughs, it will be the second time in less than a year that they've done so. They also utilized furloughs last summer as a cost-cutting measure to help combat the sluggish economic climate.

Additionally, in the aftermath of their playoff run to the AFC Championship Game last month, the Jets cut loose about 30 employees who were working as sales staff members.

The Jets said those jobs were eliminated because of the completed sales effort of the team's first season at New Meadowlands Stadium.

With Tom Rock

New York Sports