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CFL strike ends as tentative agreement reached

The second strike in CFL history is complete.

The CFL confirmed Wednesday night that it and the CFL Players’ Association have reached a tentative collective agreement. The league didn’t immediately release details, but two sources told The Canadian Press the deal was for seven years.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as neither the league nor the union immediately provided specific details.

The contract still needs to be ratified by the CFL’s board of governors as well as ACPLF members, but the players are expected to report to their teams on Thursday and go through a walkthrough.

But in a memo to its members, the CFLPA said the strike was over.

“We will notify the league that we have approved a memorandum of understanding and have ended our strike,” the union said. “We think the clubs will want to start training camp soon and the players should expect to hear from them.

“This deal is subject to member ratification over the next few days where we will be holding meetings with each team to explain the bargaining agenda and answer questions.”

A source said one team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was scheduled to hold a players’ meeting later Wednesday night to discuss the contract.

“Twitter announces the latest on your work before you even know or vote lol savage,” tweeted Hamilton wide receiver Bralon Addison.

Later, Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence posted a video of himself walking down a hallway, tweeting, “I’m back at camp at 11:11 p.m. EST.

The exhibition season is scheduled to begin Monday night between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders. A CFL official said the league will announce its plans for that game on Thursday amid reports that it will be postponed.

Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell

One of the sources added that the deal could be open for renegotiation once the league signs a new broadcast deal. The CFL’s deal with TSN would expire in five years.

However, the source added that the agreement gives the CFLPA a share of all revenue and also includes annual increases to the minimum salary cap. Additionally, veteran players will have the option of negotiating guaranteed contracts, which the CFL initially denied earlier in negotiations.

Teams will now be able to start eight Canadians, but one will be a naturalized Canadian, an American with at least five years of CFL experience or three with the same team. It has been reported that there will be 12 padded training sessions for teams this year, but players will also receive longer-term health cover (five years by the third year of the contract) in return.

And the new deal must expire at least 30 days before the start of training camp rather than the day before like the old deal did.

The new contract comes four days after players from seven of the league’s nine teams objected to the start of training camp hours after the previous agreement expired.

Talks between the league and the union broke down on Saturday.

The previous deal, originally signed in 2019 and amended for a shortened 21st campaign, expired at midnight ET on Saturday, putting players from all seven teams in a legal strike position at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Players from the Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders both showed up to camp because they weren’t in a legal strike position, according to provincial labor laws.

But the tentative agreement comes just before the Elks and Stampeders players are in a legal strike position. On Wednesday, the CFL confirmed that Alberta players would have been eligible to leave work at 2:25 p.m. ET Thursday.

CFL players went on strike once, in 1974, but the situation was resolved before the start of the regular season.

The regular season begins June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes in Calgary to face the Stampeders.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 18, 2022.

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