The NFL will begin the regular season with replacement officials after failing to make any headway in negotiations with the NFL Referees Association.
The league made it official Wednesday by informing all 32 teams that the replacement officials would work all Week 1 games. The Giants and Cowboys open the regular season next Wednesday at MetLife Stadium.
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"In light of the current state of negotiations, we will have replacement crews on the field when the regular season begins," Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of operations, wrote in a memo distributed to all teams.
Anderson said the league remains in touch with federal mediators, who have attempted to broker a deal, but that there have been no direct negotiations with the NFLRA. The union's lead negotiator, Michael Arnold, said in an interview with Newsday last week that there have been no negotiations since July 27. Anderson also told Newsday last week that he expected the season to begin with replacement officials, and said the league is prepared to dig in for an extended period.
"We remain apart on economic issues, as well as on fundamental non-economic matters," Anderson said. "From an economic perspective, the differences involve both pay and pension. Our last offer, tendered to the union prior to the beginning of the lockout, would have given officials significant annual pay increases. Nonetheless, there remains a considerable gap between us."
Arnold said in a statement that the union remains ready to negotiate.
"We are not surprised based on Ray Anderson's statements that the NFL was not going to reach out to us," he said. "However, this is consistent with the NFL's negotiating strategy which has been 'take it or leave it' and lock them out . . . It is unfortunate because the referees want to get back on the field. Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go."
Arnold added: "If the NFL is serious about negotiating, we are ready, but we can't negotiate with ourselves."