It appears the CFL and its players' association are heading back to the bargaining table. Talks broke off last Wednesday when the league refused to consider proposals that contained a cap tied to revenues and the players stuck to that demand, leading to the CFL taking their case to the public, the CFLPA following suit and bothsides criticizing each other publicly. The CFLPA issued another statement early Sunday afternoon, though, and while it was still highly critical of the league and committed to a revenue-tied cap, it also suggested that the players were looking to head back to behind-closed-doors discussions. Now, it seems the league has taken them up on that offer. Via a CFLPA release sent out at 4:55 p.m. Eastern Sunday, "Players’ Association President Scott Flory has reached out to Commissioner Mark Cohon via telephone today and can confirm that CBA negotiations are set to resume on Wednesday May 27th in Toronto. "
It's good to see that both sides are heading back to the bargaining table, as the clock is ticking. The CFLPA has mailed out strike ballots to all teams except Edmonton and Calgary (Alberta labour laws prevent them from doing that before the CBA expires May 29) and is looking to hold a strike vote "on or about May 30." That's this coming Friday. Rookie camps will open as planned regardless on Wednesday, May 28, as rookies aren't yet CFLPA members, but the veteran camps expected to start June 1 won't be happening if that strike vote succeeds. (The CFL says it won't lock players out, but that's obvious; even the league's own proposal is a substantial step up over the old CBA, so of course they'd be willing to play under the old deal, and of course the players wouldn't, so a labour stoppage has to come from the union side.) Moreover, unless something changes drastically, that vote seems likely to succeed. Yes, there are potential divisions within the union, but they're in a stronger bargaining position than usual, especially considering that the league and its TV partner have a lot to lose if games are lost.
However, even with behind-closed-doors negotiations resuming, a deal may not be reached in time to prevent a disruption. Bodog had the CFL regular season starting on time as a significant favourite early last week, but those odds appear to have since been pulled. There's still a lot that could happen, and last-second deals aren't unprecedented in the CFL (the 2010 CBA was announced on June 29), but the players' association has signified that they're not willing to report to camps and/or play while talks are ongoing unless the league gives in on their key demand of a cap tied to revenues. Seeing as the CFL refused to consider any discussion of that the last time the sides talked, it would appear there's still a big gap between the sides. That doesn't mean the regular season will automatically be disrupted, as both parties would very much like to start it on time, and there's over a month to go before we get there. Unless something miraculous happens in Wednesday's talks, though, a strike and missed camps still seem very much on the table for now, and missed games could follow.