The union also disputes the value of the league’s current salary offer, which it says would not be the 5 percent to 11 percent increase the NFL claims.
And the union questions the league’s adherence to player safety initiatives by using replacement officials, none of whom has recently worked Division I college games. Many of the officials who were replacements in 2001 came from the Division I level.
“The league has placed a lot of emphasis on player health and safety in the last few years and we do feel we are an integral part of that,” Arnold said. “We think it is unfortunate and we really don’t understand why the league is willing to risk playing safety and the integrity of the game by utilizing amateur officials.”
Anderson told the teams that the replacements have “undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason.”
“The referees want to get back on the field,” Arnold said. “Our members have been engaged in extensive preparations and are ready to go.”
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story.