CFL labour dispute showing no signs of resolution

CFL training camps in Winnipeg and six other league cities remained quiet on what was supposed to be the second day of workouts to prepare for the 2022 season.

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ association expired at midnight on Saturday and with the two sides remaining far apart in negotiations, the CFLPA advised its members to not report to camp.

The exceptions were Calgary and Edmonton because of Alberta labour laws that won’t allow the Stampeders and Elks players to be in a legal strike position until later in the week.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers player rep Adam Bighill joined The Start morning show on 680 CJOB Monday to explain what some of the key sticking points continue to be.

“We’re trying to get a fair deal for our guys. There are a couple of main items that are important to us as players,” said the star linebacker. “One being fair revenue sharing. Another one would be term of the deal. As of right now, the term of the deal expires the day before training camp starts. We want to push the date back 30 days before the full start of training camp.”

Bighill says this would alleviate the pressure on the players to fly or travel to their CFL city — and then be stranded out of country or province until an agreement is reached.

With respect to revenue sharing, Bighill says the union has asked for third-party auditing, but according to him, that has been rejected by the league.

“The CFL presented a revenue-sharing model to us from the beginning. It wasn’t what we thought was going to be perfect by any means. Part of negotiating is trying to build something together,” said the three-time CFL Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year.

“So we’ve had proposal after proposal going back to them with what we’re looking for in a revenue-sharing program. And to this point, they haven’t taken any of them into consideration.”

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Bighill says the owners’ response hasn’t created much of an opportunity to find common ground.

“This doesn’t give a lot of clarity, transparency or confidence for the players to embark on a long-term deal with the league, based on a revenue sharing program that might not work.”

Bighill says player safety has also been a topic of discussion at the bargaining table. The CFLPA vice-president says it’s not that players don’t want to practise in pads during the regular season, but he says there is compelling evidence that he and his colleagues leave themselves vulnerable to suffering potential consequences when they do.

“In the last season we had taken the pads off during the regular-season practices and we’ve seen a 33 per cent decrease in injuries,” Bighill said. “So for a request to put pads on again in practice during the regular season, so more risk, we’ve just asked for more long-term rehabilitation coverage.”

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The CFL pre-season is scheduled to begin Monday, May 23 with the Blue Bombers visiting the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina.


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