Why are MLS referees planning to picket in Dallas on Wednesday?

Major League Soccer Referees are taking to the picket line to protest the lockout instituted by the MLS and Professional Referee Organization.

The protest will occur at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre Hotel.

The referees protesting are members of the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), the certified labor union that represents the officials who work MLS matches.

The MLS opens its season this week. Dallas FC plays its opener on Saturday.

PSRA members rejected a tentative agreement reached with the PRO with 95.8% of members voting against the agreement.

Peter Manikowski, president and lead negotiator for PSRA cited unfair compensation and inadequate labor practices.

“We live for this game, giving it 100 percent of our dedication, experience, fitness and ability,” said Manikowski, “The skyrocketing growth of MLS has significantly increased demands on officials mentally and physically, and as such has increased demands on both our professional and personal time.Our members are asking not only for fair compensation at a time when the league is reporting record growth, but also for the ability to take care of themselves on the road and at home to continue officiating at the highest level that this sport demands.”

PSRA is condemning lockout which it says will cause untrained replacement referees to officiate MLS games such as the league’s season opener featuring Lionel Messi and Inter Miami against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

The MLS Players Association decried the use of replacement refs in a statement.

“The use of replacement referees will not only negatively impact the quality and results of our matches, it may also jeopardize the health and safety of players.”

“We urge the PRO and MLS to return to the table and bargain in good faith with PSRA to work towards a timely and fair agreement.”