The collective bargaining talks between the Canadian Football League and Canadian Football League Players’ Association will start once the players are ready to kick off.
“Most people aren’t labour relations experts, but the way the process actually works is that the players will give us a notice to bargain. So the ball is in the players’ court. That’s just the way labour works,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.
The current CBA expires on May 15, ending a five-year agreement that was ratified on June 13, 2014 – nearly a month after the original deadline. Ambrosie was involved in the 1992 CBA negotiations on the players’ side as secretary, giving him bargaining experience.
“We’ve had a conversation. We actually sat down, we had our health and safety meetings and the players’ association was there. They’re doing exactly what I remembered doing myself back in the day,” Ambrosie said.
“They have a busy football season. It’s hard to get everybody focused on the CBA, so they of course want to make sure they’re talking to their player reps so that their executive are meeting so that when they sit down with us they’re very well organized. What they shared with us is they’re doing all of that ground work to make sure that when they get to the bargaining table they’re very well prepared.”
The players say they want respect along with fair treatment from the league while Ambrosie wants to save the CFL’s side of the negotiations for the bargaining table.
“We’ll be ready and I know they will be as well,” Ambrosie said.
“This is an important conversation we’re about to have so I really am pleased that everyone is doing their homework so we come to a table in a well-prepared state.”
Had the two sides come together in December, Ambrosie would have been on injured reserve after shoulder surgery that required a three-week recovery.
“You want to be ready, so it’s not so much getting to the bargaining table fast as it is getting to the bargaining table in a good position,” Ambrosie said.
“The PA is doing its work and I would expect no less of them. We expect at some point down the road here — not sure when — but they’ll give us official notice to bargain which will allow us to get to the table with them.”