CFLPA instructs veteran quarterbacks not to attend ‘voluntary sessions’ during rookie camp, warns of ‘retribution’ from one team

Photo courtesy: CFLPA

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association has instructed quarterbacks not to attend non-mandatory activities when CFL rookie camps open this week, as part of their ongoing collective bargaining dispute with the league.

The CFLPA issued the following statement Sunday: “We have instructed all veteran quarterbacks not to attend voluntary sessions held this week and to align with the decisions our Association will make regarding Training Camps. The directive has been given across the league with the exception of one club, where there is concern by our Association over a pattern of retribution toward players by team management.”

It is not clear which team the PA has made the exemption for.

The existing collective agreement between the CFL and players’ association was ratified in 2019 and amended prior to the 2021 season to help facilitate a safe return under pandemic restrictions. The deal is set to expire on May 14, but talks between the two sides have broken down.

On Thursday, the CFLPA sent a memo to the players saying they had walked away from negotiations after refusing an ultimatum by the league to guarantee players would travel to training camp even if a strike was imminent.

The memo included a number of proposals by the CFL currently on the table that the union was concerned with, including a ten-year collective bargaining agreement “with zero increases in the cap” and the “full elimination of the Canadian ratio and veteran American ratio, as well as a reduction of Canadians on the roster.”

On Monday, CFLPA membership voted 95 percent in favour of giving the union permission to strike should a fair agreement not be reached before training camp. The vote is part of the standard process of collective bargaining, but provides considerable pressure as the deadline looms.

Players took a massive financial hit over the course of the pandemic but appear to be on more trusting footing with the league than in years past, in part due to increased financial transparency. However, the league’s desire to reduce the Canadian ratio and unwillingness to provide financial guarantees has halted negotiations.