TORONTO — The already fractured relationship between the CFL and CFL Players’ Association isn’t getting any better.
On Tuesday, the union stated it still hasn’t heard from the CFL regarding its plans for an abbreviated 2020 season. Executive director Brian Ramsay tweeted Thursday the CFLPA hadn’t received ”concrete ideas regarding a 2020 collective agreement from the CFL, as was promised, nor concrete direction about opportunities for a 2020 season.”
Five days later, the union says it continues to wait.
“We are awaiting a ‘guiding principles’ statement as well as its implications from the CFL,” the union said in a letter issued to its membership. ”We are also preparing to return to collective bargaining negotiations (commonly called CBA negotiations) with the CFL soon.
“Early on in this pandemic, we identified modifications that could be made to the current collective agreement that would help make way to allow for game play in 2020. At the time, the CFL was unwilling to discuss any changes. We now anticipate an initial proposal, from them, in the coming days.”
Ambrosie announced last month the earliest the league would begin an abbreviated ’20 season would be September. But he also stated a cancelled campaign remains possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramsay’s tweet, as well as those by numerous other CFL players, came more than a month after Ambrosie was criticized by several Members of Parliament for not including the players in the league’s request for financial assistance from the federal government.
Ramsay also said Thursday that when the CFL announced it was allowing teams to reopen their practice facilities, the union was consulted after the fact.
At a time when the NBA, Major League Soccer and NHL have all announced plans to return, the CFL remains in limbo for 2020. And approaching a week after the ‘20 season was scheduled to open (last Thursday night), players and fans alike still have no idea when, or if, professional football will return in Canada.
The CFLPA said it expects the CFL “will ask us to revisit such things as the length of the agreement and other significant items such as salary structure. At the very least, we expect these negotiations to result in a modified collective agreement for 2020 – a process we had originally tabled in March.”
What’s more, the CFLPA said the CFL refuses to allow players in Canada out of their contracts to pursue football-related employment elsewhere. And the union added the league is now refusing to pay certain bonuses in a player’s contract.
The collective bargaining agreement the CFL and CFLPA reached last year prevented the league from not paying bonuses, something it told its teams to in January 2018, a full year before contract talks were scheduled to begin.
Not surprisingly, the union says it has filed a grievance on behalf of all members affected.
“The CFL cannot, to their liking, pick and choose what to honour,” it stated in the letter.
The communique clearly displayed the CFLPA’s frustration with the current process.
“To say it has been an uphill battle would be an understatement,” the union wrote. “To date, the league has not collaborated with your players’ association even after being chastised publicly, by the Federal government for excluding the players.
“We continue to persevere, despite the league’s arrogance, in working towards a safe, shortened season for you.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press