NFL refs association: no strike contemplated

By BARRY WILNER | June 5, 2012 | 3:10 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL Referees Association is disputing a claim by the league that the officials threatened to take a strike vote after their contract expired.

Mike Arnold, counsel for the officials, says Tuesday that claim is "patently false" and that the NFLRA's directive to its membership was "to prepare for the season and to perform each and every task assigned to them before and after CBA expiration." The collective bargaining agreement ended after the 2011 season.

On Monday, the NFL said it will start hiring and training possible replacement officials.

Arnold also says the league intends to freeze and terminate the officials' pension plan, and that the NFL offered salary increases lower than those obtained in the 2006 agreement.

The NFL did not immediately comment.