CFL and players’ union talks on new contract break off

CFL and CFL Players’ Association broke off negotiations for a new collective agreement on Saturday.

The move comes after the two sides met for about 16 hours overnight on Friday and then returned to the negotiating table on Saturday morning. The current agreement, which was struck in 2019 and amended last year to allow the league to run a 14-game campaign, is scheduled to expire at 12 p.m. ET Sunday.

It is unclear if or when the league and union will meet again. Training camps are scheduled to open Sunday, but players with six of the nine CFL teams will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday.

Players from the Edmonton Elks, Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes will continue to report to camp. That’s because those three teams won’t be in a legal strike position until later in May due to their labor laws in the province.

In a letter to CFL players posted on the league’s website, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie outlined the offer made to the union on Saturday. He said the seven-year contract will add “more than $24 million in total player compensation over the life of the agreement — plus the opportunity to participate in revenue growth if we successfully work together to grow the league.” .

He added: “Protects jobs for Canadian players, the bedrock of the CFL. It offers partially guaranteed contracts for the first time in our league’s history. It recognizes the contribution of experienced Americans and offers a new way to extend their careers with their team without in any way limiting their freedom of choice.”

Further details of the offer are:

  • Two increases to the league’s salary minimum, which was $65,000 last season.
  • A total of $18.9 million in guaranteed salary cap increases across the league.
  • $5.94 million in guaranteed compensation paid for public relations and promotional appearances across the league.
  • An opportunity to add 25 percent of total revenue growth beyond an agreed threshold to the salary cap from 2023.
  • Clubs can re-sign their veterans on partially guaranteed contracts, a first for the CFL.
  • A club may select an American player (non-quarterback) who has been in the league for at least four years or has played with the same team for at least three years and would be considered a nationalized American.
  • The nationalized American would count as a National on the list, joining 20 or 21 Canadians who also count as Nationals on the list.
  • Each squad would have at least seven national starters. This includes at least six Canadian players. The seventh starter could be either the naturalized American or another Canadian.
  • The roster would also include three quarterbacks of any nationality, 19 Americans, and up to two global players.
  • A starting Canadian quarterback would count as a National (Canadian).
  • These roster changes would take effect beginning in 2023.
  • The minimum salary would increase to $70,000 in 2023 and $75,000 in 2027.
  • An updated code of conduct that applies to all members of the CFL community, including fans, and not just players.
  • A CFLPA seat on the board of CFL Ventures, the commercial arm of the league, so everyone can work to market the CFL and build its business.
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“It was designed to build a true partnership with you, our talented, hard-working, community-driven CFL players,” Ambrosie wrote. “It’s a win-win offer.

β€œIt creates a stronger partnership so we can work together to keep improving our game and building our business. And it comes at a critical time. Our league, our clubs and especially our players have been through so much during the pandemic. We turned the tide in 2021 and worked together to get back on the field. Now is our chance to move towards a better future.

“Let’s use this chance together.”

There was no immediate comment from the CFLPA. But former Montreal alouette Marc-Olivier Brouillette took to social media to support the players and the union.

“Stay strong and united,” he tweeted. “You are worth a lot more than you think.”

The league and union resumed negotiations last Wednesday, six days after the CFLPA rejected the CFL’s initial proposal.

The only previous CFL strike was in 1974. The work situation was resolved before the start of the season this year.

The 2022 regular season is scheduled to begin on June 9th.

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