From Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun..
The CFL and the CFLPA still have three more days to beat the date of their CBA resolution the last time they had to hammer out a new deal.
In 2010, the sides came to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement exactly one week before the start of rookie camp. One week before rookie camp this year is on Wednesday, so they could still be ahead of schedule if they can figure something out in the next three days.
When the CFL and CFLPA had its negotiations four years ago, there was nowhere near the amount of strong talk we’ve been hearing from the players over the past several weeks. There was a general assumption that a deal was coming four years ago, so the talks weren’t that big of a deal. To no one’s surprise, a new agreement was reached on May 26, 2010.
While this year’s talks aren’t going as smoothly, it sounds like things are looking up a bit. There were rumblings the players were going to go public with their demands on Tuesday, but that apparently isn’t going to happen now after some progress was made on Friday in Toronto.
In fact, the sides are scheduled to talk again on Wednesday, according to a source close to the negotiations.
The leverage, of course, is with the league, which doesn’t deny things are looking up in the nine-team league, but says they’re not that great yet. It’s no secret the players want revenue sharing, but the league instead is willing to give them a modest salary cap increase.
It looks like the players want to give the league a scare, so maybe training camps don’t start on time. The chances of the season not starting on time? Can’t see that happening.
The people stuck in the middle of this labour mess are the football operations folks, who are busy preparing for a season that might be delayed.
Then again, they’re forging ahead like nothing is out of the ordinary.
“It’s business as usual until we’re told differently,” Roughriders general manager Brendan Taman said.
Teams have already begun booking flights and reserving lodging for players. The fields are reserved, and the schedules are set. Now all they need is a collective bargaining agreement, and they’ll be set to go.
“In order to get the best deals on flights, you gotta do it,” Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said. “Everything is proceeding as normal.”
Rookie camps are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 28, with main camps to open across the country bright and early on the morning of Sunday, June 1. Rookie camps will be able to take place because the CBA doesn’t expire until after they’re complete.
“(A work stoppage) is something you think about in the back of your head,” Popp said. “If something happens, you think, ‘What’s next?’ But I’m optimistic. I want and expect us to be on schedule.”