PRO, the Professional Referee Organization jointly run by MLS and the US Soccer Federation, locked out the members of the PSRA, the Professional Soccer Referees Association. PRO is the organization that runs the refereeing program for MLS. The PSRA is the labor union representing the referees. The two groups are negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, with talks stalling and PRO facing National Labor Relations Board charges.
The PSRA filed charges against PRO with the National Labor Relations Board over allegations that MLS officials threatened the jobs of PSRA members. The PSRA rejected Pro’s latest contract offer, with PRO formally locking out the referees as of 11am ET on Friday. The MLS regular season starts on Saturday.
PRO also announced they’ve recruited and trained replacement officials who will work the MLS schedule in place of the PSRA members. Nine PSRA members are full-time referees with 11 part-time officials.
Last week, the MLS Players Union released a statement in support of the PSRA.
The Players Union and our members are closely following the negotiations between the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) and the Professional Referee Organization (PRO). The allegations in the unfair labor practice charge recently filed by the referees concerning threats made to MLS referees are particularly disturbing. The referees play an important role in our league, and we fully support their decision to organize collectively and their efforts to seek a fair contract.
Our hope is that the PSRA and PRO can agree on a CBA that ensures that the highest quality referees will be on the field when the season opens and throughout the year. Our members’ health and safety will be best protected if a fair CBA is agreed upon and PSRA referees are officiating MLS games. Players, fans and sponsors can then focus on what is gearing up to be one of the most exciting years in MLS history.