The delay in CBA negotiations is entirely the league’s doing.
CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay said the CFL relayed it has other “priorities” to address instead of working out a new deal with the players.
“In regards to why I would ask that question be asked to the CFL. They provided that they have priorities that they needed to take care of over the next couple weeks and because of that they’d be unable to schedule time. They went into a little bit of detail, but nothing that I’d be comfortable going into specifics,” Ramsay said.
“The league did give they had some issues to attend to and really I guess the simplest way is their next proposed date is April 29. It is a unilateral decision as we were very clear that we would like to meet before then, but that is the frustrating part.”
The CFL has declined to comment on the status of CBA negotiations. Discussions officially began on March 11-12. Following the opening of talks there were four other rounds of two day stints where the two sides got together in either Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
“Progress has been slow, but that’s not abnormal as we’re negotiating. The hard part is to find progress when we’re not meeting. There has been a sense of frustration within the membership before this as well in regards to some of the important issues that the players have,” Ramsay said.
“Despite the choices of the CFL our bargaining team remains focused and will continue to work hard, meet and prepare. A united players’ association is very powerful. It is important that we are all working towards a fair and reasonable collective agreement.”
The CFLPA wanted to meet during the weeks of April 15 and 22 to continue the weekly get togethers which had begun in March, but the league indicated they would not be available.
“The CFL has unilaterally decided to now delay negotiations. While our bargaining team is prepared to meet and work hard to get a deal finalized, this decision is disappointing and makes tangible progress difficult,” Ramsay said.
“There is frustration. From the players we’ve said all along it’s in everyone’s benefit to get this resolved and have a solution and a deal done in a timely fashion. We’re going to continue to work today, tomorrow and right through in a solution-based effort to try and find that deal.”
Both sides had been working through non-monetary items with the idea being finish those and move on to the monetary topics, Ramsay doesn’t feel the shift halted talks.
“That’s a question for them, most likely, but I don’t believe it would be. In terms of the priorities and rational to not meet to them, it’s the players point that this should be the No. 1 issue for the league right now. It is for the players, finding a solution to where we’re at right now should be priority No. 1,” Ramsay said.
“It’s disrespectful to the process, if there’s issues or priorities that the league has to accomplish in this time period in order to sit down, that’s a question for them.”
The term “frustration” was a common refrain from Ramsay and the union membership as the players have made it very clear about their intention to meet sooner.
“Without assuming strategies, I don’t believe it helps anybody, you’re not going to make progress when you’re not talking. From a players’ standpoint, if we’re trying to find a solution that we’re able to attend training camp and start the 2019 season, then we do need to be in a position to be able to talk,” Ramsay said.
“Our hope is that they want an agreement done. We would like to do that in a fashion where we can start the season at a regular time.”