TORONTO — The clock continues to tick on the CFL and CFL Players' Association, but commissioner Randy Ambrosie remains confident the two sides can come together on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The present deal is set to expire May 14, the day before CFL training camps are scheduled to open. The league and players union have been meeting behind closed doors for weeks now.
Past CBA talks have often been contentious and adversarial. But this time around, at least so far, the two sides have met quietly and without much fanfare.
Last week, a number of CFLPA player reps, as well as executive members Henoc Muamba and Adam Bighill, publicly emphasized on social media the union's message that it be treated as a partner by the league and part of a fair contract.
But there's been no strike vote or talk of potential job action. In 2019, players gave the union a resounding 97 per cent strike mandate during those negotiations.
"I'm not going to say anything more than our goal hasn't changed one bit," Ambrosie said Wednesday. "We want to build a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership with the players.
"There's been a lot of positive conversations, I think there's been a lot of learning, a lot of idea sharing. I remain incredibly positive, I remain optimistic . . . I am confident that we'll get to that outcome."
The CFL and CFL Players' Association have been meeting pretty much since after the '18 season when they achieved the current collective agreement. In 2020, they met to amend the CBA for a shortened season that didn't happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But they were able to do so last year to help facilitate a return to the field for a 14-game campaign.
Early on in this process, that familiarity seemed to help the league and players agree on some secondary issues. Now comes the heavy lifting on the most serious matters — monetary ones and the Canadian ratio, for example — with May 14 looming.
"I think I must commend and give a nod to the professionalism of both groups that the intent is to talk with each other, to be collaborative and to keep things positive," Ambrosie said. "Bargaining is tough but I think they've done a really good job and I'm just thrilled at the effort that's being made.
"And I think its going to lead us to a much better place."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2022.