The Canadian Football League Players’ Association distributed the following memo to its membership on Tuesday afternoon.

To all CFLPA members,

From the outset of the Covid-19 we have been trying to engage the CFL in the implications of this pandemic on a football season and the effect it is having on our members.

To say it has been an uphill battle would be an understatement. To date, the league has not collaborated with your players’ association even after being chastised publicly, by the Federal government for excluding the players. We continue to persevere, despite the league’s arrogance, in working towards a safe, shortened season for you.

After the CFL chose to not allow players to self terminate their contracts if they elected, the league has now opted to not honour payments owed, outside of base salaries, as per these contracts. The CFLPA has filed a grievance on behalf of all members affected as the CFL cannot, to their liking, pick and choose what to honour.

Next Steps:

We continue to wait on the CFL. We are awaiting a “guiding principles” statement as well as its implications from the CFL. In anticipation, we will be asking you a number of questions over the upcoming days/weeks to best gauge your interests.

We are also preparing to return to collective bargaining negotiations (commonly called CBA negotiations) with the CFL soon. Early on in this pandemic, we identified modifications that could be made to the current collective agreement that would help make way to allow for game play in 2020. At the time, the CFL was unwilling to discuss any changes. We now anticipate an initial proposal, from them, in the coming days. While we intend to complete our due diligence, we have not yet received the proposal, but we expect the CFL will ask us to revisit such things as the length of the agreement and other significant items such as salary structure. At the very least, we expect these negotiations to result in a modified collective agreement for 2020 – a process we had originally tabled in March.

We continue to meet regularly as your elected Executive and Player Representatives while doing everything we can to provide timely and relevant communication to all members.

Your CFLPA

The strongly-worded memo makes it clear that the CFLPA is unhappy with how the CFL has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. The union states that they are working towards planning a safe, shortened season “despite the league’s arrogance.”

The league’s current CBA doesn’t expire until the end of the 2021 season, but it will need to be modified in order to accommodate a shortened 2020 campaign. Players have not been allowed out of their contracts even though the first week of regular season games was supposed to be played this past weekend.

The league office had previously committed to presenting the players’ association with a back-to-play proposal more than a week ago. The union is still waiting on such correspondence as of Tuesday when the memo above was circulated.

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John Hodge
John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.