TORONTO — Representatives of the CFL and its players’ association ended negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement on Saturday.
This situation arose after the two sides had discussed for approximately 4 p.m., until late at night from Friday to Saturday. Discussions also resumed on Saturday morning.
The collective agreement will expire at midnight on Saturday evening.
It is not known if, or when, the two parties will resume negotiations during the evening. Training camps are due to start on Sunday with the first preseason game scheduled for May 23.
The current collective agreement was negotiated before the 2019 season and was amended last year to have CFL teams play a 14-game schedule. If there isn’t a new deal in place by midnight Saturday night, six of the league’s nine teams will immediately be in position to legally call strikes.
Players from the Edmonton Elks, Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes will report to their respective camps on Sunday. Players on those teams will be in a position to legally strike later in May, under provincial labor rules.
Talks resumed Wednesday, six days after the CFL Players’ Association turned down the league’s first offer.
In a memo sent to players, the union said the CFL wants the ratio of Canadian players to American veterans eliminated, in addition to reducing the number of Canadian players on teams. Currently, CFL rosters must include 21 Canadians, including seven in the starting lineup.
The league then amended its offer.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie outlined the offer that was delivered to the union on Saturday. He said the seven-year deal increases players’ total compensation “by more than $24 million over the life of the deal — plus an opportunity to share revenue increases as we work together successfully to develop the league”.
Ambrosie added that the offer “protects the jobs of Canadian players, which is the foundation of the CFL. It gives partially guaranteed contracts for the first time in the history of our league. It recognizes the contribution of American veterans, with a new opportunity to extend their career with their team, without restricting autonomy in any way.
Other offer details include:
— Two raises to the league’s minimum wage, which was $65,000 last season.
— A total guaranteed salary cap increase of $18.9 million across the league.
— $5.94 million in guaranteed compensation paid for community presence and league-wide promotional appearances.
— An opportunity for 25 percent of all revenue growth above an agreed threshold to be added to the salary cap from 2023.
— Teams can re-sign their veterans to partially guaranteed contracts, a first in the CFL.
— A team may choose an American player (who is not a quarterback), who has been in the league for at least four years or has played with the same team for at least three years, who would be considered a nationalized American.
— This nationalized American would count as a national player on the roster, joining the 20 or 21 Canadians who also count as national players on the roster.
— Each team would have a minimum of seven national starters. It would include at least six Canadian players. The seventh starter could be either the nationalized American or an additional Canadian.
— The roster would also include three-quarters of any nationality, 19 Americans and up to two global players.
— A Canadian starting quarterback would count as a national (Canadian) player.
— These changes to training would come into effect in 2023.
— The minimum wage 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, rather than just players.
— A CFL Players’ Association seat on the CFL Business Board, the league’s business arm to allow everyone to work towards marketing the CFL and building its business.
“The offer is designed to establish a true partnership with you, our talented, hardworking and community-minded CFL players,” Ambrosie wrote. It’s a win-win deal.”
There was no immediate comment from the CFL Players Association, but former Alouettes player Marc-Olivier Brouillette supported the players and the union on social media.
“Let’s stay strong and united,” he tweeted. You are worth much more than you think.
There has been only one strike in CFL history, in 1974. The labor dispute was settled before the start of the season, however.
The 2022 regular schedule is due to start on June 9.