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CFL and players union break off talks over new deal

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 if, or when, the league and union will meet again. Training camps are scheduled to open on Sunday, but players from six of the CFL’s nine teams will be in legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday.

Players from the Edmonton Elks, Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes will still show up at camp. That’s because those three teams won’t be in a legal strike position until later in May due to their provincial labor laws.

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 to add 25% of growth in all earnings above an agreed threshold to the salary cap from 2023.
  • Clubs can re-sign their veterans to partially guaranteed contracts, a first for the CFL.
  • A club may 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 roster 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 CFL ventures, the league’s business arm to enable everyone to work to market the CFL and build 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.”

There was no immediate comment from the CFLPA. But 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.”

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.

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