Time keeps ticking for the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association, but commissioner Randy Ambrosie remains confident the two sides can agree on a new collective agreement.
The current deal is set to expire May 14, the day before CFL training camps open. The league and the players’ union have been meeting behind closed doors for weeks now.
Past ABC talks have often been contentious and contradictory. But this time around, at least so far, the two sides have met quietly and without much fanfare.
Last week, a number of CFLPA player representatives, along with executive members Henoc Muamba and Adam Bighill, publicly highlighted on social media the union’s message that it must be treated as a partner by the league and be part of a fair contract.
But there was no strike vote or discussion of possible industrial action. In 2019, the players gave the union a resounding 97% strike mandate during these negotiations.
“I won’t say anything more than our focus hasn’t changed at all,” Ambrosie said Wednesday. “We want to build a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership with the players.
“There’s been a lot of positive conversations, I think there’s been a lot of learning, a lot of sharing of ideas. I remain incredibly positive, I remain optimistic. … I’m confident we’ll get to this result.
The CFL and the CFL Players’ Association have been meeting roughly since the 2018 season, when they entered into the current collective agreement. In 2020, they met to modify the ABC for a shortened season which did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But they were able to do so last year to facilitate a return to the pitch for a 14-game campaign.
Early in this process, this familiarity seemed to help the league and the players agree on some side issues. Now comes the heavy lifting on the more serious issues – monetary issues and the Canadian ratio, for example – with May 14 looming.
“I think I have to commend and salute the professionalism of both bands who intend to talk to each other, collaborate and keep things positive,” Ambrosie said. “The negotiation is difficult, but I think they did a very good job and I’m just happy with the effort.
“And I think that’s going to take us to a much better place.”