CFL teams commit to housing, feeding players until conclusion of strike or end of training camp

Screengrab courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

All nine Canadian Football League teams have sent memos to players as the collective bargaining agreement deadline nears.

The current CBA is set to expire at midnight eastern time on Saturday, May 14 while labour discussions between the two sides have broken down. In the event of a lawful strike, the franchises around Canada have ensured athletes will have accommodations and food taken care of.

The back-to-back Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers emailed a note to players:

We are looking forward to your arrival shortly at Rookie or Training Camp. Despite rumours that you might have heard, we want to assure you that, as we advised your union on May 4, 2022, we are committed to house and feed you at our expense even if the union decides to take lawful strike action. Therefore, you will not be stranded at training camp.

As you know, the CFL and CFLPA are engaged in Collective Bargaining negotiations. The current Collective Agreement is due to expire at midnight on May 14th but not all teams will be in a lawful strike position at that time according to provincial labour laws.

Our first priority is to negotiate a new Collective Agreement with the CFLPA by the expiry date and we are hopeful that a new Collective Agreement can be in place so we can play football this season without a labour disruption.

The purpose of this letter is to clearly confirm that in the event of a lawful strike, we will continue to house and feed you at our expense until the conclusion of the strike or the end of training camp, whichever occurs first.

We look forward to your arrival at Rookie Camp or Training Camp but please let us know if you have any questions.

However, the CFL Players’ Association has instructed all veteran 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.

Last Thursday, the CFLPA sent a memo letting union membership know the executive 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 about, including a ten-year collective bargaining agreement with zero increases in the salary cap plus the full elimination of the Canadian ratio and veteran American ratio, as well as a reduction of Canadians on the roster.

One week ago, 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 time ticks down.