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CFL and CFLPA talks over breaking new deal


TORONTO — The CFL and the CFL Players’ Association broke off negotiations on a new collective agreement on Saturday.

The move comes after the two sides met for around 4 p.m. Friday night and then returned to the negotiating table on Saturday morning. The current deal, reached in 2019 and amended last year to allow the league to stage a 14-game campaign, is due to expire at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.

It is unclear when the two sides will meet again. Training camps are scheduled to open on Sunday, but the union has ordered players from seven of the CFL’s nine teams to participate in a work stoppage beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday.

Players from the Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders will report to camp but will join the work stoppage once provincial labor laws permit. And although the union says the Montreal Alouettes players will not show up on Sunday, there is confusion over whether Quebec labor laws would put them in a legal strike position.

In a letter to CFL players that was posted on the league’s website, commissioner Randy Ambrosie outlined the offer that was delivered to the union on Saturday. He said the agreement, which covers seven years, increases total player compensation “by more than $24 million over the term of the agreement – plus an opportunity to share revenue increases as we work together with success in developing the league”.

He added that he “protects the jobs of Canadian players, the foundation of the CFL. It offers partially guaranteed contracts, for the first time in the history of our league. It recognizes the contribution of American veterans, with a new opportunity to extend their career with their team. , without restricting free will in any way.”

Other offer details include:

_ Two raises to the league’s minimum wage, which was $65,000 last season.

_ $18.9 million in total guaranteed league-wide salary cap increases.

_ $5.94 million in guaranteed compensation paid for community outreach and league-wide promotional appearances.

_ An opportunity for 25% of all revenue growth above an agreed threshold to be added to the salary cap from 2023.

_ Clubs can re-sign their veterans for partially guaranteed contracts, a first for the CFL.

_ A club can choose an American player (non-quarterback), who has been in the league for at least four years or has played with the same team for at least three years, who would be considered a nationalized American.

_ The nationalized American would count as a national on the list, joining 20 or 21 Canadians who also count as nationals on the list.

_ Each list would have a minimum of seven national starters. This would include at least six Canadian players. The seventh starter could be either the nationalized American or an additional Canadian.

The list would also include three quarterbacks of any nationality, 19 Americans and up to two World players.

_ A starting Canadian quarterback would count as a National (Canadian).

_ These list changes would come into effect from 2023.

_ The minimum wage would increase to $70,000 in 2023 and $75,000 in 2027.

_ An updated code of conduct that applies to all members of the CFL community, including fans, rather than just players.

_ A CFLPA seat on the board of directors of CFL ventures, the league’s commercial arm, to allow everyone to work on the marketing of the CFL and the growth of its business.

“It is designed to establish a true partnership with you, our talented, hardworking and community-minded CFL players,” Ambrosie wrote. “It’s a win-win deal.

“It creates a stronger partnership, so that we can work together to further improve our game and grow our business. And it comes at a critical time. Our league, our clubs and especially our players have been through so much during the pandemic. We turned the corner in 2021, working together to get back on the pitch, now we have an opportunity to accelerate towards a brighter future.

“Let’s seize this opportunity, together.”

In a memo to players, the union said the league was trying to undermine the CFLPA’s bargaining committee.

“You have or will receive an email from your club outlining the League’s take on failed negotiations,” the memo read. “We had filed a counter-offer to the League’s ‘take it or leave it’ offer this afternoon. Instead of using the time to review our counter-offers, the league instead took the time to draft the communication you have just received.

“When we returned to the bargaining table, the league informed us that they were leaving the bargaining table and would be communicating directly with you. This is an aggressive and crude effort to attempt to undermine the committee. negotiations of your players’ association.”

The memo also mentioned that the CFL deliberately withdrew from the bargaining table to “try to interfere in our internal structure.”

Despite their issues with the league’s messaging, the union appears ready to resume negotiations.

“We expressed our regret at the league’s decision and told them we were ready to come back to the table whenever they were ready to negotiate in good faith.”

Former Montreal Alouettes Marc-Olivier Brouillette took to social media to support the players and the union.

“Stay strong and united,” he tweeted. “You are worth much more than you think. @CFLPA”

The league and union resumed negotiations last Wednesday, six days after the CFLPA rejected the CFL’s first proposal.

The CFL’s only previous strike was in 1974. The labor situation was settled before the start of the season that year.

The 2022 regular season is scheduled to start on June 9.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 14, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press





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