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CFL, CFL Players Association reach tentative agreement

CFL, CFL Players Association reach tentative agreement

The field is empty but the stadium screens still show signs for the Ottawa Redblacks' training camp at TD Place, home of the Ottawa Redblacks, in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
The field is empty but the stadium screens still show signs for the Ottawa Redblacks’ training camp at TD Place, home of the Ottawa Redblacks, in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo by JUSTIN TANG /THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian Football League player strike is over before it even began in Alberta.

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Bargaining teams representing the league and the CFL Players Association on Wednesday night approved a seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The tentative deal, which requires ratification by the CFL board of directors and CFLPA membership, ends a days-old work stoppage for seven teams in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario, and means the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks will continue to go about their business as they had since training camps opened on Sunday. Due to the vagaries of labour laws, the Alberta teams were finally due to move into a legal strike position on Thursday afternoon.

The end of the strike means the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders will also play their first pre-season game, eventually. Scheduled for Sunday, it will be postponed. However, teams all across the league will indeed get back to practice and the 2022 season will move ahead as scheduled, in contrast to the 14-game COVID-shortened season of 2021 and the COVID-related cancellation of the 2020 campaign.

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“The agreement is subject to membership ratification over the next few days where we will conduct meetings with each team to explain the bargaining package and answer questions,” the CFLPA bargaining committee said in an email sent to the membership Wednesday night.

“We will inform the league that we have approved a memorandum of agreement and that we have ended our strike. We believe the clubs will want to start training camp soon and players should expect to hear from them.”

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The league and players reached an impasse last weekend and the CFL went public with its proposal. The players said they took issue with four major points: the league’s demand for a return to padded practices without consideration for a beefed up health and safety package; the term and timing of the deal’s expiration; the fact that they league’s revenue-sharing plan did not include an independent audit; and the roster ratio question.

CFLPA executive Adam Bighill told the Winnipeg Sun that the players’ share of revenues will rise to at least 25 per cent in the final five years of the deal, all league revenue including Grey Cup proceeds will count in the formula, and the finances are subject to audit. Bighill also said the CBA will expire a month before the start of training camp, in hopes of avoiding the pressure-packed process that led to this work stoppage.

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