The Ottawa Redblacks will not be practicing Sunday as CFL players walk out amid a contract dispute.
Talks between the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association broke down Saturday following a full day of negotiations Friday.
While training camps were scheduled to begin Sunday, the union urged players to participate in a work stoppage starting at 12:01 am Sunday. Players with the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks will not join the work stoppage Sunday because of provincial labor laws, but are expected to walk off the field as soon as they are able.
The Redblacks said in a brief statement Sunday morning that there would be no practice and no media availability. It’s unclear how long the players will be off the field and it’s not known when the league and the union will meet next.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie posted a letter to fans on the league’s websiteoutlining the CFL’s offer to the CFLPA, saying the league offered, among other things, partially-guaranteed contracts for the first time in its history and two increases to the league’s minimum salary, bumping it up to $70,000 in 2023 and $75,000 in 2024.
“This is a win-win offer,” Ambrosie wrote. “It creates a stronger partnership, so we can work together to further improve our game and build our business. And it comes at a critical time. Our league, our clubs, and especially our players have been through so much during the pandemic. We turned the corner in 2021, working together to get back on the field. Now we have an opportunity to accelerate towards a brighter future.”
TSN’s Farhan Lalji reports that no more formal bargaining sessions are scheduled, but the two sides are “not far apart”, according to a source. Lalji says the union’s three main issues include improved health and safety for padded practices, better revenue sharing, and the term of the deal if revenue sharing isn’t addressed. The CFL is offering a seven-year term.
The CFL season is scheduled to begin June 9.
The last time CFL players went on strike in 1974, the issue was resolved before the season began.
–With files from The Canadian Press and TSN’s Farhan Lalji.