CFLPA preparing to strike after CFL walks away from bargaining table on eve of CBA expiration

Photo courtesy: CFLPA

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association is preparing to strike after the CFL walked away from the bargaining table ahead of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement at midnight on Saturday.

In a PR move, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s publicly shared the details of the league’s latest collective bargaining proposal to the players, presumably looking to turn public opinion against the players after the two sides failed to reach an agreement during hours of negotiations on Saturday.

While the terms of that deal appear much improved on paper, the union still has serious concerns remaining and the league is no longer willing to negotiate.

According to TSN’s Farhan Lalji: The CFLPA is preparing to strike & they are not recommending this deal to membership. That doesn’t mean they have ‘called for a strike’ yet. Also it looks like the CFL will be able to force a vote on this ‘final’ offer in most provinces.

The league walked away from the bargaining table today & said they’re no longer willing to negotiate. While on the surface the $18.9 million over the course of the deal looks good, the CFLPA has serious concerns with how those numbers are being calculated & believe the net increase will be much lower.

There are also concerns that the revenue sharing formula excludes things like the Grey Cup & concessions & will be unaudited. Also big concerns around the return of padded practices with no additional safety protections.”

The CFL and CFLPA have been involved in heated negotiations since Wednesday when the league tabled a new proposed collective bargaining agreement. That offer was not yet to the players’ satisfaction, with a directive sent to members to report to training camp on time in order to place the union in a legal strike position.

Following two additional days of negotiations, the bargaining teams worked into the night Friday as part of a monster 16-hour negotiation session but did not emerge with an agreement in hand. The two sides met again on Saturday afternoon for a previously unscheduled negotiation session, attempting to hammer out a deal before the deadline.

That effort was unsuccessful, with the league now attempting to call the players’ bluff on strike action.

In a statement to TSN’s Dave Naylor, a league spokesperson said, “We made a comprehensive offer to the union today. Unfortunately that was rejected. There are no further talks scheduled at this time.”

Prior offers from the league have 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. That ballot was part of the standard process of collective bargaining but now appears to be coming to fruition for the first time since 1974.