TORONTO — The cooling off process continues for the CFL and CFL Players’ Association.
As of Monday, the two sides hadn’t rescheduled contact talks after negotiations broke off Saturday, hours before the collective bargaining agreement was set to expire. That put players on seven of the league’s nine teams in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Both the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks opened training camp as scheduled Sunday. Their players won’t be in a legal strike position until later this week, as per Alberta’s labour laws.
On Sunday night, the Montreal Alouettes announced all of their training camp practices were being suspended “until further notice.” The Saskatchewan Roughriders followed suit Monday.
The CFLPA announced Monday night Hamilton Tiger-Cats players will stand together outside of Tim Hortons Field. Fans are invited to attend “and stand together in a show of solidarity to demand that Canadian Football League gets back to the table,” the union said in the announcement.
A major sticking point in negotiations appears to be the Canadian ratio.
The CFL is proposing that an American player who has been in the league for at least four years or played with the same team for at least three years, would become a nationalized American who would count as a Canadian on the roster.
Each CFL roster would still have at least seven national starters, with at least six being Canadian as the seventh could be either the nationalized American or an additional Canadian.
The previous collective bargaining agreement, which expired at midnight ET on Saturday, called for 21 Canadians on a roster, with at least seven being starters.
“Every effort continues to be made by the CFLPA bargaining committee to reach a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CFL on a new and fair collective agreement (CBS),” the union stated. “Since the CFL walked away from the bargaining table, the CFLPA has told the CFL that it is prepared to continue negotiations anywhere and at any time in order to get the players back to work and fans back in the standings and celebrating a new season.”
If there’s a silver lining to the cloud that’s hanging over CBA talks, it’s that a mediator was involved in the previous negotiating process. So following an adequate cooling off period, an individual familiar to both sides can reach out and attempt to get them talking again rather than one being formally appointed and needing some time to get up to speed with the parties involved.
This marks the second time the CFL has had a strike. The first came in 1974 during training camp and was resolved before the start of the season.
The CFL exhibition season is currently scheduled to begin May 23 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visiting the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press