Glen Suitor wants CFL’s next CBA to be seven to ten years long, raise minimum salary

Photo courtesy: TSN/Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television

TSN colour commentator Glen Suitor wants the CFL’s next collective bargaining agreement to be unprecedentedly long, at least by the league’s modern standards.

“My No. 1 goal if I was (CFL commissioner) Randy Ambrosie is to make this a long-term deal — over five years, a seven-to-ten-year deal — that works for both sides, but is long-term so we can build as a league,” Suitor told Michael Ball on the SportsCage.

The CFL’s most recent CBA was ratified in May 2019 and lasted only three years, though it was amended in 2021 to allow for a pandemic-shortened season to be played. The other four most recent CBAs were either five-year (2014-19) or four-year deals (2010-13, 2006-09, 2002-05).

Suitor believes the recent reimplementation of revenue sharing — something the CFL had been without for almost four decades — could help lead to a smooth round of negotiations between the league and the union.

“There’s going to be a new level of transparency. That transparency will be generated because of the new rule in revenue sharing. You can’t have revenue sharing if you don’t have transparency,” said Suitor.

“What does that lead to with the Players’ Association? That leads to trust because now they see what revenues are there. Now they actually see the economics of the league and they can realistically sit down and still have their demands — I don’t for a second think they won’t come with demands — but have them with a new trust level, a new perspective on what the business model actually looks like, where that money should be allocated, and then how they can grow it over time together.”

The CFL’s minimum salary was raised substantially under the current CBA, increasing to $65,000 from recent levels of $45,000 (2013), $50,000 (2014), and $54,000 (2018). Suitor wants the minimum salary to be raised dramatically under the next CBA, potentially even reaching six figures.

“If we can get the minimum wage to $90,000 or $100,000, you’re now looking at an entry-level for players that is really attractive. It helps with the perception issue, and it evens out — the cap is basically the same, but you’re now bringing up one end and reworking the other,” he said.

“That’s super important for a couple of reasons. One is the American that is looking to continue his pro career or looking to have a pro career … has got a chance now to make more money — money that is going to be more attractive.”

The CFL Players’ Association filed written notice to begin bargaining a new CBA last week, which could allow formal negotiations to get underway shortly. Suitor hopes that both sides will take the lasting effects of the pandemic into account as they look to build a symbiotic working relationship into the future.

“I’m glad that they’re starting and they’re starting with a very different perspective,” he said. “Both parties, the league and the P.A., will go in there with the perspective of a lost season. With the perspective of what COVID over two years has done financially to the organizations. And that’s not to say that gives an advantage to the league or an advantage to the players, just that they both understand the reality of it.”