The breakdown of collective bargaining talks between the CFL and its players' association Thursday suggests we may well see a players' strike that disrupts training camps and potentially preseason and regular-season games. Whose fault is that? Well, both sides are blaming each other, issuing dueling statements Thursday about the other side refusing to take their best offer. First, from CFL commissioner Mark Cohon (who was involved in Wednesday and Thursday's talks after previously leaving the negotiations to others):
This afternoon, the Canadian Football League has sent its best offer for a new collective bargaining agreement directly to the players. Unfortunately, this best offer was rejected by the CFLPA executive committee this morning. We strongly believe it is a fair and equitable agreement for both parties. We want football. We want our season to start on time. But not at the cost of the unrealistic proposal put forward by the CFLPA. We do hope the CFLPA executive committee will put this offer to CFL players for a vote.
Second, from CFLPA president Scott Flory:
We have just presented to the PRC an offer in the hopes of getting a deal done today.
We feel as though we have listened and addressed all of their issues.
Their concern was around having fixed cost certainty, we have address that. We have proposed a salary cap that starts at $5.8M and increases by 3% annually.
We have proposed a minimum compensation per Club of $4.8M that rises in correlation with the max cap. We agree with their proposal on minimum player compensation.
In an effort to compromise, we have developed a system which we call a “Revenue Protection Clause”. This clause allows for a fixed cap for a minimum of 2 years. After the 2nd year, if there is an increase in revenue on a league wide basis of more than $12M, excluding Grey Cup, the parties will renegotiate the cap or the collective agreement will be jointly terminated at the end of that season.
Basically we provide certainty on both sides of having a fixed cap and allowing the possibility of our players to
share in the potential growth.
(Flory's full statement is available as a PDF here.)
So, which side's responsible for the breakdown depends on who you believe. It's notable that the players have moved more in both philosophy (to a flat cap) and in dollar figures (from a $6.2 million max cap to a $5.8 million one in 2014, a decrease of $400,000 from their last public offer, compared to the league's proposed max 2014 cap of $5 million with a $50,000 rise annually, an increase of just $200,000 from their previous offer), though. It's also notable that the players released their proposal to the public, while the league did not, a sharp change from how this went last week. Regardless, it looks like neither side is willing to concede anything further at the moment, and that means we're likely headed for a player strike. (That strike may not happen until after camps open Sunday, though, thanks to Alberta labour laws.) Unless something changes dramatically, the CFL's training camps, preseason and regular season could all be affected.