NEW YORK - This year's labor battle features the NFL going up against the NFL Referees Association.
With negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFL's referees unresolved, the league announced Monday that it will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials.
The following is the full statement from the NFL.
"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 Referees Association fired back with a statement on Monday.
"It is now clear the league never intended to work toward a fair agreement, even through mediation," the statement reads. It also includes a promise that "our organization's professional referees will continue preparing for the 2012 NFL season to the best of their abilities, despite the NFL's refusal to provide them with vital training and educational materials."
The situation has left the The NFLPA concerned, leading to a statement from them.
"The NFL Players Association is concerned about the NFL's decision to lock out professional referees and recruit scabs to serve as referees in NFL games for the 2012 season.
"In 2011, the NFL tasked officials with increased responsibilities in protecting player health and safety, and its search for scabs undermines that important function.
"Professional athletes require professional referees, and we believe in the NFL Referees Association's trained first responders. The NFLPA will continue to monitor the league's actions in this situation."