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Dolphins implement financial austerity measures

The Dolphins told their employees in early March that the club was instituting a three-part plan to handle its finances during the current NFL lockout.

The first part of the plan was to simply hold the line and not make any cutbacks of any kind while waiting for the lockout to lift. That would be the case, club employees were told, until the April draft, meaning no jobs or salaries would be affected at least until then.

The second part of the plan would be to revisit the issue following the draft and make adjustments to salaries and or employee numbers if the lockout persisted.

The third part was to revisit the issue a third time in the fall if the lockout continued, cutting more deeply into ticket sales and possibly hurting the franchise with the loss of actual games. That third option would result in people losing their jobs.

The Dolphins on Tuesday announced to their employees the implementation of the second phase, citing lagging ticket sales and revenue due to the lockout. The Miami Herald reports everyone employed by the club making over $75,000 annually would get a 20 percent salary cut, everyone making more than $50,000 annually would get a 15 percent pay cut, and everyone making less than $50,000 per year would get a 10 percent pay cut.

Club employees were told the cuts affect "everyone," meaning coaches, personnel department staff and business side management are also believed affected although that was not made clear. The cuts affect only salaried employees but not employees making an hourly wage.

Pension plans and health insurance were not cut. The club advised employees on how to cut 401K contributions for the time being if they that is what they wished to do.

The news was delivered first to department heads in a 30-minute session at club offices at Sun Life Stadium and then to subordinate employees afterward in a 10-15 minute meeting.

All employees were told the club would restore their salaries to previous levels once the new league year begins -- whenever that happens.

The fallout from this?

Where to start?

The most ironic result is that Miami Dolphins employees, who are working for the club and NFL, are now solidly backing the players and are against the NFL in the current labor struggle. It's a pragmatic approach. Simply, the quickest solution to the lockout would come if players continue their current legal winning streak, thereby causing the new league to begin the quickest it possibly can. Remember Dolphins employees will have their salaries restored once the league year begins. So no one is rooting for club owner Stephen Ross and his fellow owners to find legal remedies that might draw out the lockout.

Secondly, I'm told there soon spread resentment among the so-called "regular Joes" that they are collateral damage in the battle between the billionaire owners and millionaire players. It's classic class warfare thinking and it is now spreading.

Thirdly, the Dolphins will soon have a morale problem among its employees if the first-day reaction to the news is any measure. Club hierarchy was asked if there would be any measures takent to ease the pain from the cuts. A party was quickly ruled out, I assume for its cost and sheer misplaced call. The club was asked if room could be made for shortened work weeks to somehow ease the pain of what is a 10-20 percent pay cut. No, was the answer on that one also. Folks are expected to continue working usual business hours.

Fourthly, club employees are questioning how they are having their pay cut to help the club's sagging finances but the club spent untold sums of money on Tallahassee lobbyists to try to convince state lawmakers to raise the state hotel bed tax, thus setting the stage for a local initiative to add a canopy roof and make other improvements to Sun Life Stadium. That measure did not pass in the legislative session so the lobbyist didn't get it done.

Club employees were also wondering how much money might have been saved had the club not built a nightclub in the stadium that opens only on game days. In truth, it's unclear if Club LIV at Sun Life is a money maker for the club or not, but that doesn't seem to matter to some disgruntled employees who see the expense as money spent on a boondoggle. "It cost the team money to build that they're now taking out of my paycheck," I was told.

It should be noted the Dolphins are not alone in asking employees to bear the brunt of the current lockout. In fact, fewer teams than not have held the line against cost-cutting that includes salary cuts. So it would not be fair to single out Ross as an irresponsible owner coming down on the little people.

But does that relieve any of the coming financial pinch for Miami's employees? Does it ease their frustration?