The NFL and the players reached a meeting of the minds last summer, putting the lockout behind them and ensuring labor peace for the foreseeable future. Not so for the guys in zebra stripes who keep the players in line during the games. The NFL referee's contract has expired and the league is in a standoff in negotiations as the summer is about to begin.
To give themselves insurance that there will be referees ready for the pre- and regular season, the NFL has made a pre-emptive strike and is immediately beginning to the process to hire replacements for the 2012 season. This should also give the league leverage over the refs who were hoping for increased salaries and benefits in this contract year.
The previous referee agreement lasted six years and without one in place, training for new refs will begin immediately. According to the league, their negotiations have included "substantial increases in compensation for all game officials."
See the full NFL Press Release after the "Jump.'
NFL STATEMENT ON NEGOTIATIONS
WITH NFL REFEREES ASSOCIATION
Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired. Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials.
Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games.
Another negotiating session took place Sunday under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We appreciate the efforts of the FMCS and will continue to be available to the NFLRA and the FMCS to negotiate a fair resolution. We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials.
· The NFL negotiating team is led by Jeff Pash and Ray Anderson.
· The previous agreement was for six years (2006-2011).
· Negotiations on a new CBA began last October.
· Regional training sessions for replacement officials will begin later this month.