CFL, CFLPA are continuing to bargain on new contact

TORONTO, Australia — The CFL and CFL Players’ Association are going into overtime in their quest for a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league and players were continuing to meet late Friday night to hammer out a deal. The current contract, which was negotiated prior to the ’19 season and amended last year so the CFL could stage a 14-game campaign, is set to expire at midnight ET on Saturday.

“We are continuing to meet with the league this evening,” the CFLPA said in a memo to its membership Friday night. “We made a little progress today, and we are continuing our negotiations into the night to try and find an agreement.”

With training camps scheduled to open Sunday, the union added it planned to speak with player reps “to update the plans for Sunday the 15th of May.”

If a new agreement isn’t reached in time, six of the league’s nine franchises will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Players with the Edmonton Elks, Calgary Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes will all have to report to their respective training camps. Those teams wouldn’t be in a legal strike position until later in May as per provincial labour laws.

CFL players have been on strike just once, that being 1974. That year, though, the situation was resolved prior to the start of the season.

A work stoppage could jeopardize the May 23 start of the exhibition schedule (when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders). The regular season is set to kick off June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes in Calgary to face the Stampeders.

The league and union resumed negotiations Wednesday, six days after the CFLPA rejected the CFL’s first proposal. Shortly afterwards in a memo to players, the union stated  the CFL wanted to eliminate the Canadian ratio and veteran American ratio and reduce the number of Canadians.

In the current agreement, CFL rosters must include 21 Canadians, of which seven must be starters.

The league came back with an amended proposal Wednesday.

Edmonton running back James Wilder Jr. took to social media Friday in support of the CFLPA’s long-standing goal of securing a fair agreement with the league.

“CFL please don’t force us to get ugly and match y’all energy!” he tweeted. “We just want a fair deal and to play ball!!!”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press