That was one of the key findings in a survey of top-tier Scottish referees carried out by Prospect.
More than seven out of ten respondents (72%) said the fees they receive do not reflect the demands that the SFA puts on their time.
More than eight in ten (82%) were concerned about the transparency around how matches are allocated to referees and how referees are graded.
When asked if they were confident that the SFA does everything possible to deter media interest in their personal lives, 72% disagreed.
Prospect negotiator Ian Perth said: “Our members work in the top tier of Scottish football and deserve to be treated fairly. The time commitments are extremely onerous and of course they need to be physically fit.
“But the SFA does not classify them as staff and doesn’t even give them worker status.
“Given the responsibilities of our referee members and the difficult and vital role they carry out, we believe they should have a collective voice via a professional union.”
The survey found that more than 93% of referees want the SFA to engage with a professional union to negotiate on their behalf.
“Prospect engages collectively on behalf of referees in England and Wales and we meet the football authorities regularly. It’s unfortunate that the SFA seems to prefer not to engage with a trade union and we hope it will consider building a dialogue with us.
“We are planning to meet the Scottish Senior Football Referees Association in the coming months to discuss how we can progress the issues facing referees,” Perth concluded.
*Prospect surveyed 50 members who are senior referees