CFL players have rejected a new collective bargaining agreement with the league.
According to the source, the CFL players voted against the approval of the initial deal reached Wednesday between the League and the CFL Players Association. The source spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday as neither the CFL Players Association nor the CFL Players Association immediately confirmed the vote.
TSN also reported that the initial deal was rejected on Monday, citing sources.
But the news of the rejection is somewhat surprising given that there are reports that players from one team continue to vote on the deal.
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The CFL and CFLPA reached an initial seven-year agreement on Wednesday, four days after players went on strike with seven of the league’s nine teams. This was the second layoff in league history and the first since 1974.
The CFLPA executive recommended accepting the deal, which included increases to the CFL’s salary cap ($100,000 annually starting next year) and the minimum salary (from $65,000 to $75,000 by 2027). It also included a revenue-sharing formula for the federation and gave players a chance to guarantee the final year of their contracts by up to 50 per cent.
And while the Canadian Football Association has called for a return to cushioned exercise – one hour per week during the regular season to a maximum of 12 – it has extended medical coverage for retired players from three to five years.
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The deal also called for the number of Canadian starters to be increased from seven to eight, but that would include a nationalized Canadian-American who has either spent five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team. Additionally, three nationalized Canadians can play up to 49 percent of all shots on either side of the ball.
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This has upset many current Canadian players, to the point that there are legitimate concerns about whether the CBA will ever be ratified. The rejection of the agreement leads to more uncertainty about the fair season – which has been revised due to the previous hiatus – which is scheduled to start Friday night with two games.
The regular season is scheduled to begin on June 9.
What is not clear now is what is next and whether the players will immediately return to strike, continue training while the federation and the league return to the negotiating table, or will they be closed down by the league? It is also unknown whether the CFLPA’s negotiating unit will remain in place or whether the players’ rejection of the agreement you ratified means changes within the negotiating team.
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On Monday, CFLPA executive member Henok Mwamba said that while the initial deal had his support, if it was not good enough for the majority of union members, he would be willing to return to the negotiating table on their behalf.
“As a team representative and (guild) vice president as well, I try to feel good about the room,” said Mwamba. “In the past few days, I’ve had many great conversations with a group of guys.
“The hardest thing for the committee is that you have to be able to have representation but you also want to have a good feeling for the guys inside the locker room. You want to have good contact with them so you can represent them as best you can. If things change, Well, listen, you should be able to adapt quickly.”
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Muamba joined the CFLPA hierarchy in Montreal on Friday to discuss the deal with the players. Mwamba is not only a former Aleut but also speaks the two official languages.
The visit came after Canadian full-back Chris Ake, a representative of the Alwette player, indicated the possibility of rejecting the agreement.
Toronto was one of the seven teams to start their training camp on Thursday – Edmonton and Calgary reported the start of May 15 because they were not in a legal strike position at the time. Ahead of news of the deal being rejected, Mwamba said that if that was indeed the case, the union would try to start contract talks backed by the knowledge that this is what most members want.
“I think the committee will be more comfortable paying more knowing that they have the strength and confidence of the members behind them,” he said.
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