AFL-CIO head calls NFL replacement referees ‘scabs,’ ‘incompetent’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Replacement referees being used by the National Football League (NFL) are incompetent scabs, according to one of the country's most prominent union leaders.

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO and an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, said he hasn’t watched a game since the NFL has employed replacement referees. 


The NFL has been using replacement officials during the preseason as it attempts to strike a labor deal with the NFL Referee Association. But those talks have broken off.

“They are scabs ... they’re incompetent,” Trumka said. “I’m worried about the health and safety of a lot of players because these (replacement referees have) never even done college-(level) games.”

Trumka made his remarks during an interview on “Convention Lunch Break TV,” a joint venture by The Hill and Reuters.

The AFL-CIO head added, “What we need to do is get this thing settled, get those referees back so we can protect the players and the game.

“The game doesn’t really play well whenever you have a referee who doesn’t know what to do,” Trumka said.

The NFL season starts off Wednesday night as the New York Giants play the Dallas Cowboys. Replacement referees will work that contest as well as Sunday’s slate of games.