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Referees Accuse NFL of Bypassing Union in Contract Talks

National Football League referees filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, saying the U.S.’s most-popular sport is trying to bypass their union in negotiations on a new contract.

The NFL sent letters directly to game officials that “contained inaccurate, false and incomplete information regarding bargaining issues and proposals,” the NFL Referees Association said in the charge filed June 19 with the federal agency.

“It is clear the league never intended to work toward a fair agreement, even through mediation,” Michael Arnold, lead negotiator for the officials, said in a news release. “Now during a lockout, the NFL is attempting to bypass NFLRA negotiators by distributing inaccurate and misleading financial information to all the referees.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail that the referees’ charge had “no merit.”

“It is common for employers during collective bargaining to provide factual information to employees that has already been communicated to the union,” Aiello said. “That is all that was done here.”

The league said this month that it would begin hiring and training replacement officials after talks aimed at reaching a new collective bargaining agreement with the union stalled.

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