The Major League Soccer Referees Association votes against the tentative CBA agreement, triggering a halt days before the start of the season

The Professional Referees Organization (PRO) announced on Saturday that Major League Soccer (MLS) referees will be banned, effective at 12 a.m. ET on February 18.

The news comes shortly after the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), the trade union representing professional referees in North America and Canada, announced that its members voted overwhelmingly to reject its leadership's tentative agreement with the PRO on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by vote “No” by 95.8%

Inter Miami hosts Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at the start of the Major League Soccer season. Barring radical changes in the next few days, the match will be officiated by substitute referees. There's a full slate of MLS games this weekend, the first of the 2024 season.

The athlete It was reported on January 22 that PRSA members had voted unanimously to authorize the strike. The athlete It was also previously reported that the PSRA filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that the PRO engaged in “direct dealing,” bypassing union leadership and communicating directly with PSRA members.

“We live for the game, giving it 100% of our dedication, experience, fitness and abilities,” PRSA president and chief negotiator Peter Manikowski said in a statement on Saturday. “The tremendous growth in Major League Soccer has significantly increased the demands on officials both mentally and physically, and thus increased demands on our professional and personal time.

“Not only are our members demanding fair compensation at a time when the league is recording record growth, they are also demanding the ability to take care of themselves on the road and at home to continue to operate at the highest level this sport demands.”

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The previous CBA between the PSRA and PRO, the MLS-funded body that administers professional administration in the United States and Canada, expired on January 15. The leadership of both groups reached a tentative agreement last week, but PRSA members rejected it.

“Time was of the essence to strike a fair deal and move forward together with renewed positivity ahead of our 12th year of supporting the growth of the professional game in the U.S. and Canada,” PRO general manager Mark Geiger said in a statement. “The result of the membership vote is disappointing.”

In a statement following the news, MLS issued a statement claiming that the CBA “would have made PRO members among the highest-paid soccer officials in the world.”

“It is extremely disappointing that officials voted against the tentative agreement on the new CBA reached by the PSRA and PRO,” Nelson Rodriguez, MLS’s executive vice president of sports products and competition, said in a statement.

“The PRO team has worked for several months and addressed all the issues raised by the PSRA’s bargaining unit. It is also unfortunate that the PSRA rejected the PRO’s offer of a mutual commitment not to strike or lock out, which would have allowed all match officials to continue working while negotiations were underway.”

“The PRO team has informed us of their contingency plan for the upcoming MLS season, which includes the use of experienced professional match referees supported by experienced VAR officials. We are confident in the comprehensive plan they have put in place.”

The PRO team announced that the total wage increases for the first year include: 10-33% for referees, 75-104% for assistant referees, and 15-100% for video match referees, in addition to an increase in match fees for each of the main referees. Season matches and playoffs. The deal also included first/business class air travel for the playoffs and the MLS Cup throughout the deal.

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PRSA said it was committed to returning immediately to the negotiating table. PRO said it remained committed to reaching an agreement with PRSA.

Required reading on the eve of the 2024 MLS season

(Melinda Major/ISI Images/Getty Images)

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