TORONTO — Contract talks between the CFL and its players remain in the "exploratory" phase, says union senior adviser Ken Georgetti.
The CFL and CFL Players' Association met again Monday and Tuesday in Calgary after opening talks the week before with two sessions in Toronto. Talks are scheduled to resume next Monday and Tuesday in Vancouver before returning to Toronto on April 1-2.
The two sides exchanged non-monetary proposals in Toronto and spent the sessions in Calgary further reviewing them face-to-face while also spending time meeting separately.
"These are exploratory," Georgetti said Wednesday during a conference call. "We're working to try to understand each other's issues, taking time to explain and make sure we make sure we understand what each other is asking for.
"Then we go back in caucus and try to determine what the affect of those proposals are and then start bargaining. It's very much normal and we're making reasonable progress in what is the first two days of bargaining."
Georgetti and union executive director Brian Ramsay are heading up the CFL Players' Association bargaining committee as chair and vice-chair, respectively. Georgetti, who joined the union in 2016, is in his first contract negotiation with the players but is a former president of the Canadian Labour Congress and has over 35 years of labour relations experience.
Ramsay agreed with Georgetti's account of negotiations.
"We're bargaining, we're in the midst of it now," he said. "We've started to get into discussions and bargaining around the contract language.
"I'm confident we're taking steps. It's a process, it's a long one and it's still very early."
Once again, neither Ramsay nor Georgetti would discuss publicly what's specifically being negotiated. Last week, a report suggested both the CFLPA and league have talked about reducing the number of Canadian starters on the field from seven to five.
Ramsay wouldn't say if reducing the ratio has been discussed but the report touched off a firestorm on social media with heated debate between present and former players —both Canadian and American.
"Healthy debate is a good thing," Ramsay said. "What this has shown us is . . . we've got a very engaged membership.
"Their engagement is refreshing on that specific issue and many others that haven't hit the forefront. What we're very confident of as a group that everyone is fully supportive of the package that we've put in front of the league."
Ramsay said when talks resume next week, the expectation is negotiations will remain "progressive".
"They're progressive in the sense that they're solution-based," he said. "And that was the approach as players that we came in with.
"We're still coming with a goal to address the needs and concerns of the membership and we're doing that in a solution-based approach."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press