Winnipeg Blue Bomber veterans will report for work on the weekend hoping a new collective-bargaining agreement can be hammered out ASAP.
That said, Bomber CFL Players’ Association rep Glenn January said the league’s rejection of the union’s latest offer has disappointed veterans who were hoping the labour impasse could have been resolved long before they are to report for medicals on Saturday and the first official day of training camp a day later.
"We’re informing the players to show up, as normal, on the weekend and hopefully that’s seen as a sign of good faith to the league and aids us in advancing the negotiating process," January said Thursday, just a few hours before the current CBA is set to expire at 10:59 p.m.
"Obviously we were disappointed that negotiations broke off today, just because so much time and effort was put in by both parties – but especially on our part – to try and find a middle ground. I’m telling my teammates to go out there and prepare to have a normal training camp, to do whatever you do in the lead-up to Saturday’s physicals and Sunday’s first day on the field.
"Keep this in your mind, but at the end of the day we’re going to have this resolved one way or another and we have to be ready to be prepared to shift our focus to getting to the 2014 Grey Cup."
Asked about whether the CFL’s latest proposal could be put to the players for a vote – as commissioner Mark Cohon suggested -- January said:
"I’m not sure about the process on that, but the players I’ve spoken with are not satisfied with the offer that’s been levied from the CFL. The feedback I’m getting is the players are willing to fight and do whatever it takes to see this through."
Like a lot of CFL fans, January said he was hopeful that Wednesday’s day-long meetings might push the two sides closer to an agreement. Instead, today’s development seems to have done the opposite.
"The feedback I’m getting from a lot of guys is they’re disappointed in the pace things are proceeding and not in the way you would think necessarily," January said. "Guys are excited to stand up to some of the things that have been said about them, whether it’s in the media or from the commissioner’s quotes… there’s certain things that just ignite the competitive fires that burn inside all professional athletes."