The NFL players' union has sent an open letter to team owners calling on the league to end the lockout of on-field officials.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick grabs a replacement ref at the end of the Pats game with Baltimore after a controversal call on a field goal (NFL)

The players hint that the lockout could violate the collective bargaining agreement that ended their own lockout last year. They cite a lack of a safe working environment.

The union also asks why Commissioner Roger Goodell  issues suspensions and fines "in the name of player health and safety" while the regular officials the league entrusts to maintain health and safety are locked out.

Meanwhile, two people familiar with the talks say that the NFL and the locked out officials' union met on Sunday.

It was uncertain whether progress was made in an attempt to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, or when further negotiations would take place.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)