The current stalemate between the CFL Players Association and the Canadian Football League has resulted in strike ballots being sent to CFLPA members. After the latest round of meetings it’s been reported through “sources close to the negotiations” that no progress was made with the clock ticking towards the expiry of the current deal.
In any contract negotiations the best offers usually don’t come until the eleventh hour. And a strike vote is a tool that the CFLPA has at its disposal to show the league how serious they are about what they are fighting for.
The new TV deal with TSN is what is making this negotiation a tough one. With so much more money available, the players want to be rewarded for years of taking less for the good of the league. The owners want to keep costs under control and make up for years of losses some have incurred on the way to the stable league we see today.
The two main issues seem to be the return of revenue sharing for the players, as well as the proposed increases to the league’s Salary Management System. It has also been reported that the league wants an 8 –year deal, a number the players association isn’t fond of.
There are of course a plethora of other issues, including roster sizes, player safety, practice roster salaries etc. which may prove to be easier to resolve once the bigger issues are agreed to.
The big question is, how do they do that? Clearly there has to be compromise on both sides.
To start, the league needs to make a meaningful offer to the players judging by this tweet from former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Doug Brown:
CFL labor dispute in a nutshell: Each club gets $2.7 mil in additional TV revenue in 2014, yet CFL proposes only $100k cap increase. Fair?
— Doug Brown (@DougBrown97) May 16, 2014
Hardly, and if that number is correct it’s no wonder why the players are talking strike. Give the players a real increase and share the wealth, because in the end without them, there is no show.
In return, the players may have to give up their demand for revenue sharing, at least this time around. The league is asking for an 8-year agreement. Cut that in half with an agreement that revenue sharing will be on the table for the next agreement, if the league is still on solid ground.
Players should share in revenue, especially when their names are used to sell the jerseys and other merchandise and for the work they do off the field in their communities to promote their teams and the CFL. The league wants to take baby steps here, so give up the revenue sharing in return for a solid increase to salaries…for now.
The players have issues with player safety, and those should be taken seriously. One only has to look south of the border to see the litigation going on for former players who suffered head injuries. This should be a fairly easy issue to resolve.
Of course I am no lawyer. I’ve never been in a union, or negotiated a labour deal. What I’ve proposed are just my thoughts on what may get a deal done. I know that there are complications to these issues that go beyond my knowledge, but it does seem like a bit of common sense to me. I can’t even take sides in this negotiation because I feel the players need to be rewarded and at the same time, I’ve watched as owners like David Braley and Bob Young have lost millions keeping teams and this league alive.
Like any negotiation, both sides want and need a deal that is the best they can get. To get there, they’ll have to meet in the middle.
The sooner, the better.