The NFL confirmed on Monday that referees are officially locked out as the two sides find themselves at a stalemate over a new labor agreement. Hiring and training replacement referees is the league's next step. The NFL Players Association released a tersely worded statement disagreeing with the use of replacements, but that is effectively the limit of what the NFLPA can do.
Article 3, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement between players and league prohibits any strikes, slowdowns or other job actions on the part of the NFLPA and its membership. The CBA reads:
Section 1. No Strike/Lockout: Except as otherwise provided in Article 47 (Union Security), Section 6, neither the NFLPA nor any of its members will engage in any strike, work stoppage, or other concerted action interfering with the operations of the NFL or any Club for the duration of this Agreement, and no Clubs, either individually or in concert with other Clubs , will engage in any lockout for the duration of this Agreement. Any claim that a party has violated this Section 1 will not be subject to the grievance procedure or the arbitration provisions of this Agreement and the party will have the right to submit such claim directly to the courts.
Some questioned earlier in the day on Monday whether or not the players union would cross the picket line, staying out in support of the unionized referees.
The agreement between the NFL and the referees expired in May. With preseason football still some two months away, the two sides have time to get a deal done.