CFL, CFLPA not even in same ballpark when it comes to CBA negotiations: report

According to a report by CTV Regina’s Claire Hanna on Thursday, the CFL and CFL Players’ Association remain miles apart when it comes to their collective bargaining agreement negotiations for a potential shortened 2020 season.

“I don’t think it’s shocking to anyone to say right now with where we’re at. At this point, it’s not even the same ball park,” Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther said.

A significant amount rides on a new league ask for federal money that is reportedly valued at $42.5 million, which is going to be used for paying the players and operating costs. That is a decrease from the original $150 million request that commissioner Randy Ambrosie brought to the house finance committee without player support.

“The last I did hear was the government understands the urgency we’re in right now,” Lauther elaborated. “They’re doing everything in their power to get an answer sooner rather than later.”

The league has set a July 23 deadline for negotiations to finish but players are unhappy with the proposal on the table. Currently, the league is offering non-guaranteed pro-rated pay for a six-game regular season, 33 percent pay for 33 percent work.

“It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow when you’ve watched everyone all season get 80 percent of their pay,” Lauther explained.

That money would come without other benefits as well.

“Why would you do that for that amount of money,” free agent tackle Thaddeus Coleman said. “And your pension, they’re not even paying into the pension.”

Then there is the challenge of a hub city model with an isolated player bubble. The league has dragged its feet on determining a location and players are hesitant to leave their families for the potential of more than 100 days in isolation.

“If I have to risk my life with COVID-19 and stay in a hotel for 105 days, I want my money guaranteed and more than 33 per cent [of my paycheque], that’s a joke if you vote to play for this,” veteran defensive tackle Almondo Sewell wrote on Twitter.

Lauther summed up the feelings of many players.

“High risk of injury, high risk of COVID-19, we don’t have the details of if it’s safe or not or if it’s really a bubble or not. So there’s way too many questions right now to think it’s realistic to even take a risk at something like this for such a low number financially.”

The league’s lack of proactivity when it came to formulating its plan has now come to a head and players feel like an unfair deal is being rammed down their throat. For a hub city model to work, they’ll need significant guarantees or a negotiated raise in their rate of pay for the games played.

Whether either of those things is financially viable for a league already banking on government assistance to make this deal happen is another question entirely.