Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

CFL, CFLPA reach tentative agreement

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Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon

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Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon

The Canadian Football League and its players have finally made peace and come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league and the CFL Players’ Association released the following statement late Saturday night:

‘A tentative agreement has been reached between the Canadian Football League and the Canadian Football League Players’ Association on a new collective agreement. It is pending ratification by a vote of the Players and the CFL’s Board of Governors, which will be scheduled as soon as possible. Further details will not be made public until these votes have taken place.’

That means Monday’s preseason game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts at Investors Group Field — the first on the CFL schedule — will not be affected and will proceed, as will the rest of the regular season.

"There was some movement on behalf of the CFL and the sentiment among the executive and the CFLPA reps is there is enough movement to go ahead and play the game (on Monday) and continue on business as usual," said Bomber CFLPA player rep Glenn January late Saturday, following a union conference call that reached four hours.

"We’ll see how that goes moving forward with the vote. But I would say I’m definitely cautiously optimistic."

The CFL’s offer contained some movement, mostly on non-monetary issues and that was enough to get the CFLPA to agree to a deal that will reportedly be six years in length. Specific details on the new CBA were not made public by either side, but Sportsnet’s Arash Madani reported the tentative agreement will see the cap set at $5 million in 2014; $5.05 million in 2015 — numbers that scream out a significant win for the owners. Initially, the players had been seeking a $6.8 million cap.

TSN’s Matthew Sciantti also reported that the option-year in players’ contracts, aside from rookies, has also been eliminated, which is a gain for the union.

A CFLPA source requesting anonymity told The Free Press the decision was ‘not necessarily unanimous and there was a long sometimes heated conversation.’

Some of the initial player reaction via social media provided a glimpse at some of the frustration:

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish, via Twitter:

‘How it works in the 21st century: Unions are dead.’

His teammate Maurice Price also chimed in with: ‘There is no way we agreed to THAT’ and ‘What happened to #UnitedWeStand ? @CFLPA #CFL #CFLPA’

The Bombers also weighed in, with Alex Suber firing out three Tweets not long after the news of a new deal broke:

‘That was a waste of time’, ‘back to Football; It never left’ and ‘Can’t wait to see IGF fill up Monday! #BomberFaithful’

Added centre Steve Morley: ‘Sounds like the boys of summer are going back to work... #aJobWellDone #CaseClosed #CFL #CFLPA’

Defensive end Jason Vega: ‘Let’s be smart about what we tweet now gentlemen... just put the phone down lol. #justgotobed’

A small group of the league’s movers and shakers began huddling again on Friday and Saturday in an effort to hammer out a new CBA to avert the CFL’s first strike since 1974. The league’s latest offer came on a day in which both the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders conducted strike votes and the three Ontario-based teams voted again to include rookies — all in an effort to be ready to walk if a deal couldn’t be reached.

The CFL had been without a collective-bargaining agreement with its players since May 29th but players have been in camp since June 1st — a move that many believe significantly affected whatever leverage they may have had. At the same time, the league’s owners couldn’t afford to lose the revenue from games, especially with just nine regular season games and one preseason tilt scheduled for each club.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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