With the start of the MLS season just days away, the Professional Referees Organization, the company that employs MLS officials, is threatening to lock out referees belonging to the Professional Soccer Referees Association, according to Steve Taylor, the union's vice president.

PRO -- which is funded largely by MLS -- and the PSRA have been attempting to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement since last year, but talks have become increasingly contentious in recent weeks.

The PSRA voted 64-1 back on Feb. 21, authorizing its board to call a strike whenever it deemed it to be appropriate. The vote was largely in response to two grievances the PSRA filed with the National Labor Relations Board over what it alleges are unfair labor practices.

The first grievance alleges that PRO was unavailable for meetings, failed to bargain in good faith, and engaged in regressive bargaining -- whereby tentative agreements were taken off the table. The second and more serious charge alleges that at a Feb. 1 training camp held in Florida, a member of PRO management threatened upwards of 10 referees with reprisals if they continued to engage in union activities.

Taylor met Tuesday with PRO GM Peter Walton as well as MLS Executive Vice President Todd Durbin. While Taylor characterized the talks as "professional" he said that no progress was made, and that he expected to hear from PRO later in the day that management was locking the referees out. A call to Walton was not immediately returned.

"There hasn't been any real movement on their part, and there has been on our part," said Taylor via telephone. "They don't seem to be interested in making a deal. They're stuck where they are and this is on both economic and non-economic issues."

Taylor added that among the items that are still being negotiated are payment for games, compensation insurance in case of injury, performance standards and evaluation, fitness and fitness testing, and travel standards.