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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."

10 comments:

Parkside said...

The players do need to benefit some way. Revenue sharing, etc. The continued growth of the league and a good partnership between CFLPA and CFL is needed. So that some day part-time jobs won't be needed. I hope I'm around to see the cap doubled in size.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say whether the ask of the players is fair (56%) without knowing the true financial status of the league. We don't know how many teams are losing money. We do know the game is strong in SK, but there are clearly issues in Toronto. I'm fundamentaly on the side of the players, as I realize they could be making more money doing something else. (Remember Tristan Jackson took a pay cut to leave the oil rigs and play for the Riders last season?) But the league is going to argue the economics can't handle revenue sharing...and things might get ugly NHL-style.

I hope the players come out better at the end of this, and for all our sakes that there is NO work stoppage!!

TR

Anonymous said...

The only thing keeping the CFL strong is D. Braley. The man takes a hit every year with the Argos and possibly the Lions.

I’d like to see a summary of all the teams financials, that they report every year and see what % of teams revenue salaries account for. Teams are barely profitable right now (Riders are a known exception) and it’d be interesting to see what % of revenue salaries are currently at.

I’m not paying higher ticket prices than I am currently paying (the stadium ticket tax is enough of a hike!)

Anonymous said...

The CFLPA did this to themselves, and now they are feeling the issues. When the CFL tells them to take cuts, and rescind entitlements because the league is supposedly on poor financial grounds well tough beans. That's not a partnership the CFLPA is there to negotiate a better than current state.

Now they want revenue sharing back, and why would the teams give that to them? Football labour's supply far outweighs it's demand so if player's don't like it then to bad, they can join the real world.

This is a direct result of poor leadership in the CFLPA, and members should be upset. However where else other than trades/oil patch are 20 somethings going to make the money these players are making today? It delays their real world entry, and again the teams only have to say if they don't like it then, to bad.

You don't give up benefits and entitlements because you never get them back. That should be lesson 101 in negotiating.

Anonymous said...

Negotiate the salary cap - not the revenue %. Ticket prices will go up salaries will go up and the amount needed for operating and profit will be limited. Remember profit is not a crime it is a necessity to provide funds for growth.
Should the players get more - YES but within a sustainable cap. The new TV deal should provide an immediate boost to the cap.
NOTE TO BOTH SIDES - no work stoppage - the league has seen increased fan support, tv ratings and there seems to be an increase in following from the US - don't screw up the progress that has been made.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the solution lays with an increased salary cap along with an increased minimum and rookie minimum. No player should need to flip burgers to make ends meet here and back home. Some guys can't even work if they wanted to because of restrictive visa's.

Some revenue sharing is required to make this happen. To what extent is yet to be determined. Let's remember salaries have gone up around the League, better exposure has meant opportunities for guys down south. Much has been gained.

Even with increased revenue many teams are just barely making it. Where would hard restrictions place the RedBlacks in their quest to resurrect football in Ottawa? Maybe another flop in Ottawa?
Private owners don't own these teams to lose money. They may not make any but they don't want to lose any. If you are a small business owner and lose money every month I have news for you. If you a wage earner but you tell your wife you're getting cut back 10 week every week then I got some news for you.

If the league were to lose two teams there goes 100 football jobs and a host of residual jobs. I guess it's back to Atlanta and working as a trainee at Walmart, or try out for ateam in the Arena League. If every team folded for a year and all the players headed south and the Canadians back to their regular jobs, the league would be up and operating within a year. There are thousands of players down south waiting for an opportunity. Change the ratio for a few years. The level of play may be down a little bit for a year but within two years you would never notice the difference.

Any new CBA must meet the needs of both management and the players. It must also consider the nuances of the CFL, the fan bases, the budgets. They all have to realize that this league is not a mini-NFL and can't be operated that way.

Anonymous said...

If these Players truly wanted change and wanted to get a piece of the pie then they should have a work stoppage, and hold out. They will never have a better chance than in today's climate.

The timing will be better because if they are "flipping burgers" to make ends meet, they can continue right along doing that, and it's a short term hit.

For Players at stake is hundreds of dollars and maybe thousands, but for teams it is millions at stake so how long do you think teams would hold out?

You think David Braley or Bob Young would even consider risking to lose a home game? Do you have any ideal if Toronto or B.C didn't play their home openers what that would do to Braley financially? The Riders make hundreds upon thousands of dollars on a home game, and you honestly think Hopson and co' would risk losing that?

It comes down to resolve. At the end of the day CFL career is short, and it is not a sustainable career. These Players will be long gone in 5 years so if they want to grab that income now, and set it up for others long term they better realize there will never be a better time.

David Braley is in his 70s, and looking to get out. Ottawa we all hope is successful, but if they go under then it's back to teams crying poor.

They need to send the message now they want to get paid because the timing is never going to be better for them to grab it.

The public right now is sympathetic to CFL players. When it comes to NHL and NFL nobody cares about those players. CFL guys are legit athletes, putting their health at risk, and get nothign out of this long term. They need to have an opportunity to build a nest egg while they can.

Obama

Anonymous said...

Clearly the left leaning posters don't get it. Any work stoppage no matter how short would cripple the players far more than the owners. When they don't play they don't get paid. If American players are out on a stoppage, they would have to return to the USA because they are not working here. The Visa's are pretty specific.

If the NHL is prepared to lose a season, then I'm here to tell you the CFL would have no concerns. The concerns spewed off above were the same ones being spewed off when the NHL was talking about going out. The NHL is back bigger than ever. The owners all survived and they won. The offer the players begged to take was worse than the one they first rejected. Add in the 100's of millions the players lost wages it's obvious the players won nothing. They have admitted as much.

In reality each team would lose eight home gates, but they wouldn't pay a dollar of the salary cap. Who really loses? Before the players go out and try to force the issue, they might want to talk to the NHL players reps. Many players nearing the end of their careers would never play again, as a lot of teams will not re-sign these guys. Younger and cheaper are available.

A good increase of the salary cap along with better yearly increments. Add on better league minimum salaries should do. This can only be solved with some give and take. If anyone thinks they players can go out and make the teams yell uncle, they've seriously got a sobering surprise coming.

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly as someone who quote unquote leans left, I agree at the end of the day Employees really have no power. You can find an employee anywhere, but in certain collective bargaining situations they do have tiny windows of opportunity. This is one of them.

A recent example was Degelman in Regina getting locked out. Those guys rejected the offer, walked out for 3 weeks, and were offered another deal less than the original which they took. They also don't get the money back from being off.

With CFL Players, they will get one chance and that's to risk, and again it is a risk to not have that first home game played. That screws up TV money, sponsorship deals, just throws a lot of chaos into the mix. They have to think the teams will blink first either due to lost revenue or poor optics from the public.

To do this they need to have resolve, and if you look at players, again not making judgements they just don't have it.

I told a person today regardless of how many millions the CFL now makes, it's really on par with ECHL hockey. It's a great way for fans to get entertainment, teams to make a few bucks, and players to not be in the real world for awhile.

Obama

Anonymous said...

Bargaining 101, ask for more than you want, then convince the other side to move towards your demands as you move towards theirs. The CFLPA started at 56%, maybe they would be happy with 40 to 45%. But with all the secrecy regarding the private teams, who knows what total "football related revenue" would add up to.

Six of eight teams were already profitable, according to the commissioner. Add in a much better TV deal and I can't see the CFLPA settling for anything less than increasing the SMS cap to at least $6 million by the end of this agreement. Just a prediction, personally I don't care what the agreement ends up at, I just want the season to start on time.
Brad T