CFL players reject labor deal, urge more negotiations

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans prepares to throw a pass during the opening day of the Canadian Football League team's training camp in Hamilton, Ontario, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (Nick Iwanyshyn/The Canadian Press via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Football League players have rejected the new collective bargaining agreement with the league, the players' union confirmed in a memo to its members on Monday night.

The league and the CFL Players' Association had reached a tentative deal last week.

“There is currently not enough support from the CFLPA membership to ratify the most recent offer from the CFL,” the memo said. “The CFLPA has communicated with the league that a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) can be achieved if the league is prepared to resolve the outstanding issues quickly.

“In reviewing and discussing the offer, all CFLPA members maintained to the bargaining committee that, while many components of the current offer align with the direction that’s been provided by the membership, there remain critical outstanding items that must still be resolved in order to achieve a fair deal.”

The tentative deal was reached last Wednesday, four days after players with seven of the league's nine teams went on strike. It was the second work stoppage in league history and first since 1974.

The CFLPA executive committee recommended that players accept the deal, which featured increases to the league's salary cap and players' minimum salary (from $65,000 to $75,000 by 2027). It also included a revenue-sharing formula for the union.

While the agreement called for a return to padded practices — one hour weekly during the regular season to a maximum of 12 — it extended medical coverage for retired players to five years from three.

The deal also called for the required number of Canadian starters to increase from seven to eight but that would include a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team. In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49% of all snaps on either side of the ball.

Those changes bothered many Canadian players, leading to concerns that the deal would not be ratified.

The regular season is slated to start June 9.

“The entire CFLPA membership has indicated a strong desire to come to a fair agreement as soon as possible to that players can work and fans and partners can bet back to celebrating the game,” the union memo said. “With that, the CFLPA bargaining committee has already informed the CFL which items within the package still need further negotiation in order to satisfy the membership and keep discussions moving forward as efficiently as possible.”