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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MADANI ON CFL LABOUR TALKS

SportsCage has the best sports insiders and Sportsnet's Arash Madani proved that again on Tuesday when he reported extensively on the current CFL/CFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.  Last week's talks broke off after only one day because the sides were too far apart.  Here's what Arash had to say Tuesday on 620 CKRM:

MADANI: "Things are not good.  This much has been made public already; Scott Mitchell of the Calgary Sun reported that talks broke down in Calgary last week.  After they talked on March 6, they were cancelled for March 7.  That's what we knew.  I've learned a lot more.  First of all they had meetings scheduled March 20 and 21 in Toronto, however those meetings will not be taking place.  Effectively what's happened here is these two sides are at a complete impasse and there is really nothing to discuss on either side right now because they are so far apart.

"Fundamentally it's this; the players want a cut of the revenue sharing.  Remember during the NHL lockout we kept hearing about H.R.R. (Hockey Related Revenue)?  Well the last CBA the players had a cut but that got removed because of the financial health of the league.  The players took a step back and said 'You know what?  We understand this is for the betterment of the league' so they removed that.  They want it back and they want 56% which is a very reasonable 'ask'.  That's their original pitch.  The CFL's saying no, that's non-negotiable.  That's a non-starter.  So that's where things died.

"Until the league is willing to negotiate revenue sharing, what the Players Association feels is, is there is no sense in meeting at all.  The league's stance is - and they won't tell you this publicly - revenue sharing is not going to be a part of this CBA.  The players are saying it absolutely will be because business has never been better.  You've got a new TV deal, new stadiums going up everywhere, an expansion team has been added, so business is dramatically different than it was a few years ago.  And so here we are.

"The league wants an eight year CBA which the players say is ridiculous, so neither side is talking and the meetings are cancelled later in March."


SO ARE WE KICKING OFF CANADA DAY WEEKEND?


MADANI: "Look, it's very early in the process.  It's March, there's a lot of B.S. and posturing going on.  There's a lot of people having broad shoulders right now but I would suspect, with the CBA expiring the day before training camp, eventually both sides are gonna have to come to an agreement.  This is as important to the league as it is to the players.

"We're talking about a drop in the bucket.  The guaranteed money that got dispersed to two players in the NFL today is more than the entire salary cap of the CFL.  But this is beyond just revenues and this is where things got interesting to me: the CFL has told the CFLPA that they want unlimited practice roster spots and more of an injured list.  And they want two-way contracts moving forward so if a team wants to take someone off the active roster and put them on the practice roster, they won't have to clear waivers, they won't have to be released and have the opportunity to sign with another team.  The PA does not like that one bit.

"The other is the work day.  Right now the work day is 4 1/2 hours which everyone knows it's not actually that with players coming in with treatment times two hours before practice plus workout times.  What the league wants is for the work day to change so it's an actual 'work week' rather than days but that doesn't actually work out with short weeks and long weeks.  That leaves it open to manipulation.  The players want it black and white because so many of them need and want part-time jobs moving forward.  So that's where it is.

"You wonder how much of this is a smoke screen but I can tell you this; when they were supposed to meet last week both sides were supposed to present their offers on March 3.  The league office didn't send theirs until March 5 and it was a two page document with nothing monetarily included.  The CFLPA's was 24 pages.  When you're starting at this level, this is as ugly as the NHL and NHLPA was in the beginning.  The CFLPA is in constant communication with its membership and their position is that if the league thinks they can walk all over them like they did in years past, they're sorely mistaken.  The PA says we're stronger than we've ever been and the business of the league has never been so strong.

"A lot of people don't get paid if the league isn't being played so the longer this goes, advantage Players Association over the league.

"Fundamentally on this, 56% of the football revenues is what the players want but the league isn't willing to even talk about that kind of distribution.  Until that happens, I don't see this being resolved one way or another."