The CFLPA’s senior advisor on labour negotiations believes guaranteed contracts should be a part of the upcoming CBA negotiations.
“I do think guaranteed contracts should be and will be discussed at the bargaining table in terms of the players,” Ken Georgetti said.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, first year players must play 14 games to secure the entire compensation laid out in the contract. Four-year veterans have their deals guaranteed after 11 games, five-year vets 10 games and six or more, nine games. If a player is released prior to those game stipulations, none of the salary has to be paid by the team.
“The thing I found that’s most different from what I’m used to is the relationship between the players and their employer. It’s unusual in the sense that players can get released for any reason and it’s very difficult to attain any job security and be secure enough to advocate strongly for yourself while you’re vulnerable to those kind of whims of the management,” Georgetti said
“I think that landscape’s going to change, but the relationship between the players and the league has to change. The players need to have more say in the outcome of their work and they haven’t had very much to date, I must say.”
Contracts are changing in the NFL. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins signed the first fully guaranteed multi-year contract in NFL history during free agency last March and guaranteed money has increased dramatically even outside the QB position. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald will net over $86 million of the $135 million contract signed last August, over 64 percent of the deal. CFL players want to be treated in the same way and similar to other employees in the country.
“Usually in most of the workplaces in Canada, if you act on behalf of the organization, the association and speak out you’re protected from just cause dismissal, in the CFL unfortunately you’re not. And our experience suggests that some player reps that speak out from time to time find themselves cut from the game and I’m not used to that,” Georgetti said.
Georgetti was brought on by the CFLPA in 2016 because his background in labour law. He is a former president of the Canadian Labour of Congress, the longest serving in history. And Georgetti has more than 35 years of experience in labour relations and been an Order of Canada recipient.
“We need to talk about what a real partnernership is and a real partnernership is sharing both the risk and the rewards. I think the sharing of the risk is disproportionate. And as you can see from the financial sharing of the rewards, it’s abysmal frankly,” Georgetti said.
NHL players receive approximately 50 per cent of league revenues while the NBA is at between 49 and 51 per cent. NFL players get between 46.5 and 48 per cent while the MLB is around 50 per cent. It’s clear CFL players receive significantly less than counterparts in other pro sports leagues.
“So it’s having an equitable voice in those conversations around player safety and rules, discussing the future of the game and growth of the game and also the monetary aspects. There’s many pieces to that but a true partnership is being accountable to both sides on all these various levels,” Georgetti said.
“A partnership is being part of conversations starting with the amount of risk that’s taken on the field. If you look at the risk, it’s 100 per cent on the players.”