‘I feel like there’s going to be a deal done today’: Alouettes’ CFLPA rep Chris Ackie believes CBA strife will end before CFL deadline

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Montreal Alouettes’ linebacker Chris Ackie was among the first to voice his opposition to the CFL’s last proposed collective bargaining agreement, but with a deadline looming to accept what the league says will be its final offer, the team’s CFLPA representative has changed his tune.

“I feel like there’s going to be a deal done today. I feel there has to be a deal done today,” Ackie told TSN on Thursday. “I feel like hopefully the rest of the membership will be happy with it.”

On Monday, the CFL Players’ Association voted down a tentative agreement between the union’s executive and the league, with proposed changes to the Canadian ratio and the absence of a ratification bonus being identified as the main points of concern.

At the time, Ackie came out publicly saying he would not endorse the deal to his teammates. The league has since made a new proposal to the players including a ratification bonus and a reduction in the ratio to six Canadian starters. While discussions are continuing surrounding the ratio issue, the league has set a firm deadline of Thursday at midnight ET for the players to accept the new deal.

Should the deal be rejected, the league will be forced to cancel their first preseason games and has promised to cease feeding and housing players. That is an outcome nobody wants.

“I can’t speak for everyone around the league, but from guys on our team, I know we want to get back to playing football,” Ackie said. “We know that we’ve heard some of the terms, not all the terms, but from what’s been said, guys understand that we’re not going to be one hundred percent happy, but it’s going to be good enough.”

It appears that the added financial compensation upfront in the form of a ratification bonus has sweetened the deal enough for the majority of the player base to accept some of the proposed CBA’s other deficiencies.

“When you negotiate, you’re never going to be one hundred percent satisfied, either side. I feel it’s gotten a lot better, so I’m happy that we took the steps to get it better,” Ackie said. “Hopefully, we come to terms today and we’re back on the field tomorrow.”

Any proposed deal has not yet been placed in front of union membership for a vote, with a proposed reduction to the ratio appearing to be the lone hang-up. As a ratio-breaking Canadian starter himself, Ackie believes strongly in the importance of preserving those rules.

“Without the ratio, I don’t think Canadian players get that opportunity all the time,” he explained. “The ratio kind of lets us prove ourselves, that no matter the passport, we’re able to hang with anyone.”

“The ratio gives guys a lot of opportunities. You look across the league at some of the Canadian stars and without the ratio, they probably wouldn’t get the same opportunity that they’ve had to really grow and blossom into the players they are today.”

It remains to be seen if the CFL will have the common sense to budge on that issue or if any potential compromise will be satisfactory to the union’s Canadian membership. With players reportedly confident a vote will take place at some point Thursday, the future of the league hangs in the balance.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and youth football coach. He covers the CFL, the CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.