Locked-out referees, hoping to get a new contract before the NBA starts putting three replacement officials on the court for each game, are making some progress in negotiations.

The two sides had a three-hour meeting Wednesday, and they planned to meet again today. Wednesday's negotiations were the first since Nov. 16, and were attended by commissioner David Stern.The referees, locked out since Oct. 1, are eager to get a new contract by Monday, when the NBA plans to add about a dozen replacement refs, enough to increase the two-man crews it has been using to three. The two-man crews have been criticized by players and coaches, and problems maintaining discipline have led to numerous technical fouls and ejections.

"We keep chipping away at it and as long as we keep meeting, there's hope we can get a deal," said Fred Slaughter, general counsel for the referees' union. "We were able to reach tacit, actual agreement on several important things."

Slaughter would not specify whether the two sides have moved closer together on salary issues. After the last meeting, union officials said the two sides were $2 million apart in salary and in disagreement about the contract's length and provisions for playoff money.

"We remain very far apart on economic issues," NBA spokesman Chris Brienza said.