Following unproductive meetings with Canadian Football League executives and the league's legal counsel Friday, the Canadian Football League Players' Association has decided to take a significant step to emphasize its solidarity in negotiations: The union has begun sending strike ballots by priority mail.
A player confirmed to TSN on the condition of anonymity that he received his ballot yesterday. Another confirms he's been told to expect his shortly.
"The union's executive committee insists a strike vote does not mean we're pushing away from the table," the player said. "But we want the league to know we're serious about our position."
The players' executive committee includes union president Scott Flory, vice-presidents Jay McNeil, Marwan Hage and Jeff Keeping and treasurer Brian Ramsay. Keeping (Toronto Argonauts) and Ramsay (Edmonton Eskimos) are the two active players on the committee.
The league and players are still scheduled to meet in Toronto Wednesday - eight days before the current CBA is set to expire on May 29 - when the players will table a new proposed collective bargaining agreement that will include a revenue sharing scheme with the union requesting a percentage of gate, sponsorship and television revenue. With each revenue stream the union is proposing its share be in the range of approximately 40-55 per cent.
The proposal includes a salary cap of approximately $7 million in the first year of a new CBA. In 2013, the last year of the current agreement, the salary cap was $4.4 million. The league has so far been reluctant to discuss any revenue sharing model.
"We've been told to expect a step back tomorrow (from the owners)," the player says.
The CFLPA requires more than 50 per cent of its players to confirm a strike vote. But the players must adhere to provincial labour laws, and cannot picket immediately. According to a source with knowledge of the talks, only players in certain provinces, where a strike vote can happen before the current bargaining expires, have received their ballots.