Today, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced that MLS referees will return to work for the weekend games after PRO ratified its first-ever collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA).
MLS referees and linesmen had been locked out after labor negotiations stalled and replacements were then employed for the first two weeks of the MLS season. There had been concerns about the safety of the players, but the replacement referees did a respectable job in most games.
“We are pleased that PRO and the PSRA have finalized a five-year collective bargaining agreement," said MLS commissioner Don Garber. "We are happy to have our regular referees back on the field for this weekend’s games.”
The contract will last five years according to a release from the PSRA. The agreement was reached with the help of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
“We are looking forward to having our referees back on the field and officiating games,” PRO general manager Peter Walton said in a statement. “The new agreement will provide important benefits to our referees while ensuring that PRO will be able to achieve its goal of developing and employing world-class referees for the competitions we serve.”