In another instance of labor troubles in the NFL, the league has begun the process of hiring replacement referees for the upcoming 2012 season, after contract talks with the Referees Association broke down on Monday. Despite nearly nine months of negotiations, the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a new deal, with each blaming the other in a scene reminiscent of last year’s player lockout. The league aims to hire retired college officials as well as referees from minor college conferences, as the officials of the major BCS conferences are affiliated with NFL officials. Both the Referees Association and the NFL Players Association denounced the move, claiming the “amateur referees” and “scabs” would undermine player safety. The most recent contract dispute between the league and its referees occurred in 2001 and was settled following the first week of the preseason.