CFLPA accuses CFL leadership of forcing ‘unnecessary work stoppage’ by using ‘authoritarian’ negotiation tactics

Photo courtesy: CFLPA

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association has issued a response to CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s public letter on the collapse of collective bargaining negotiations, accusing the league of forcing a strike by using authoritarian tactics.

In an internal CFLPA memo obtained by 3DownNation, the union state they are open to returning to the bargaining table but condemn the league for refusing to negotiate further.

You have or will receive an email from your Club outlining the League’s spin on the breakdown of bargaining. We had tabled a counteroffer to the League’s ‘take it or leave it offer’ this afternoon. Instead of using the time to consider our counter-proposals the league, instead took the time to craft the communication you just received. When we returned to the bargaining table the league informed us they are walking away from the bargaining table and that they would be communicating directly to you. This is an aggressive and crass effort to try to undermine your Players’ Association Bargaining Committee.

They have effectively instigated an unnecessary work stoppage by acting in such an authoritarian manner.

We are preparing a complete report updating you on the progress we have made and the outstanding issues we wanted to resolve across the table. You will see that these outstanding issues are easily resolved but the league chose instead to walk away from the bargaining table and try to interfere in our internal structure.

At the outset of these negotiations, we identified several key issues that had to be addressed:

Extended Rehabilitation
Improved Safety
Contract Security and Continuity
True Revenue Sharing
Improved Compensation

The League’s aggressive final offer either did not sufficiently address the above issues or, in some cases, moved us backwards on them.

We expressed our regret at the league’s decision and told them we are ready to return to the table whenever they are prepared to negotiate in good faith.

In Solidarity,
Your CFL Players’ Association

In a PR move, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s publicly shared the details of the league’s latest collective bargaining proposal to the players on Saturday night, hoping to turn public opinion against the union after the two sides failed to reach an agreement ahead of the expiration of the current CBA at midnight tonight.

Among other aspects of the deal, the CFL says its offer will result in $18.9 million worth of total guaranteed increases to the salary cap league-wide over its seven-year term. However, the CFLPA has serious concerns surrounding that and other numbers, believing them to be improperly calculated and misleading. The league is also refusing to allow the revenue share to be audited.

The two sides have been involved in heated negotiations since Wednesday and worked into the night Friday as part of a monster 16-hour negotiation session. They met again Saturday afternoon for a previously unscheduled negotiation session, but the CFL reportedly walked away from the bargaining table after presenting a final offer.

While progress has been made on several fronts, prior offers from the league had been met by concern and anger from the players, with the CFL proposing, among other things, a ten-year agreement without salary cap increases and the elimination of the Canadian starting ratio.

Last week, CFLPA membership voted 95 percent in favour of giving the union permission to initiate a work stoppage. Players reported to training camp on time Saturday to place the union in a legal strike position in six of the nine CFL cities.

While an official announcement has not been made, the CFL appears primed for its first player strike since 1974.

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