With two days of collective bargaining meetings wrapping up in Toronto, the next stop is Calgary March 18 and 19.
“The groups are both committed to getting back in the room together,” CFLPA president Jeff Keeping said. “Both groups are committed to meeting as often as possible and those are the times and locations that work. We’ve got two groups that are committed to what we’re trying to get accomplished, so I think that’s indicative of trying to get us back together in a room again as fast as possible.”
CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay said the talks will continue to be held in different CFL communities.
“It’s a positive to be able to get across the country and be in cities where our franchises are,” Ramsay said. “That’s a good thing when we’ve got that future outlook. We’re going to keep a consistent meeting schedule and variety of where we are.”
There are more dates scheduled for Vancouver on March 25 and 26. Once the west coast meetings are concluded the groups will circle back to Toronto on April 1 and 2.
“It was good, everybody came back together and after a productive day yesterday, laying out the framework, today both sides exchanged proposals and had some healthy discussions back and forth and then time with our individual groups. It was a good step forward,” Keeping said.
“Non-monetary proposals were exchanged. We’ve got a strong commitment from both groups that we’re not going to divulge specifics. But we both have taken a lot of time putting together thorough packages that we respect where both parties are coming from. We’re also going to give each other the respect of being able to just meet in the room and negotiate those topics.”
The CFL and CFLPA met from approximately 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in downtown Toronto Monday and Tuesday to kick-off the CBA discussions.
“They’ve been strong, it’s positive. We were both able to exchange our outlooks and our desire for growth and our passion for the game. Those are things we share and we laid the foundation for respectful dialogue moving forward,” Keeping said.
Heath, rehabilitation and the players having a voice on rules and safety committees are major issues for the players.
“We were able to get through the non-monetary items that we were able to present and receive the league’s. We’ll take it back and discuss internally, but it was a step forward. Right now there is time to digest and talk internally and we’ll do that with our group and the executive player reps,” Ramsay said.
Monthly meetings between commissioner Randy Ambrosie and CFLPA representatives has helped prepare the sides for the CBA discussions.
“That’s something that is a credit to both the commissioner as well as what we’ve tried to do with the PA. And that’s open those lines of communication and work on the relationship there so that when we get to these times we both recognize there’s issues we’ll agree upon and disagree, but we’ve worked towards having a stronger foundation heading into it,” Keeping said.
The current CBA expires on May 18, ending a five-year agreement that was ratified on June 13, 2014 – nearly a month after the original deadline.
“Today was sharing proposals, getting clarification, but we understand the time crunch we’re under so those are things we’re committed to working through and the monetary proposals will be prepared in due time as we work together. We meet internally, there’s a lot of work to be done so that when we come to these sessions they can be productive and we have room to move forward,” Keeping said.
“That’s a productive start to it. The hope is that there is momentum here,” Ramsay said. “There’s obviously some concerns that we’ve been very vocal about that the players have had and they continue to have. From a players perspective, we’re looking forward to continuing to sit down and making those are talked about.”