Boy that escalated quickly... about all it was missing was someone stabbing someone else with a trident.
Today talks between the CFL and CFLPA blew up in a very ugly and public fashion. Both sides are now bombarding the media with why their position makes sense and why the other side is a bunch of crooks. For those of you not experienced in labour negotiations, welcome to the wonderful word of traditional positional bargaining. And regardless of who you are siding with on this (so far public opinion seems heavily weighted towards the players) the bottom line with all this public mud slinging is that the sides are currently not negotiating with each other and each passing day that goes by without the sides actually negotiating puts the start of the upcoming season further at risk. And I don't know about you guys but the offseason has been long enough... I'm ready for some damn football!
I've been asked a couple times which side I'm on for this issue. The answer is I think they are both being stupid. I work in an organized labour setting and I loathe all these dated tactics and positioning that is being used. Both sides (the League in particular) need to spend less effort strategizing their PR campaign and convincing the masses who is more wrong and more time working on a deal.
There are other issues at play here (like the players' desire for independent neurologists at games) but the big divide is unsurprisingly over money. To oversimplify the league is offering a $400K increase in the cap which amounts to $4.8M. With a $50K increase for each of the next 5 years. It also includes a small signing bonus for players. The players want a $6.24M cap and further increases to be tied to revenues. Their rationale is that each team will be getting $2.7M in new money from the TV deal which more than pays for the increase. The league says it would be disastrous to the League to go there.
The owners are stupid for thinking that a $400K increase and no revenue sharing will entice the players. That's like telling your buddy you can only afford to buy him supper if its a non-super-sized value meal at McDonalds while a dump truck simultaneously showers you in $100 bills. The players aren't innocent either though. I can't think of a sane business owner out there who would agree to increase his labour costs 41% in one year when financial stability only recently became a reality league-wide. Yes the players deserve a fair share of newly found prosperity but the the owners need a more balanced approach to spending growth if they want the financial prosperity to continue.
Currently the League is looking like the bad guy and rightfully so. Their initial cap bump is small and the increases from their or microscopic. They need to pony up more $$$. I say up the offer to a starting point of $5.2M (that's and 18% pay raise which is sizeable) and also offer bigger year to year progressions to give the players incentive to drop the revenue sharing structures. Say $150K/year. That would put the cap around $6M by year 5 which is pretty good growth from the current state. I would even up the signing bonus offer substantially as that is a one time cost vs. an ongoing one which the owners should like. But that's just me pulling numbers out of my ass.
Bottom line is the owners need to actually make a fair offer and the players need to realize that these businessmen successful for a reason and dramatically upping labour costs in the first real year of league-wide prosperity is not a wise business move. Sign 3 year deal and agree to revisit the idea of revenue sharing then if this prosperity is still a reality (TV deal runs longer than that).
Next move will be interesting. All the talk thus far has been about a player strike but that will likely not happen until day 2 of training camp since many players have roster bonuses that kick in when they report and pass physicals. Not wise for them to miss out on that. I could see the owners preemptively locking the players out prior to that to apply pressure to settle. I just hope it doesn't come to all of that... but with each passing day it looks more likely.
I hope cooler heads prevail and a deal... any deal is struck. Any kind of work stoppage hurts everyone players, teams, fans. The CFL is currently riding a wave of momentum that stops on a dime if this deal doesn't get done. No one wins if a deal can't be worked out... no one.
In the event of a strike I would like to put CFL teams on notice that I am willing to be a replacement worker (scab if you will). Honestly not like I could be a worse QB than Winnipeg had last year. I just need to find a deaf receiver, sumo wrestling centre and convict linebacker (wonder what Trevis Smith is up to?)
On a happier note, I look forward to seeing the new stadium design tomorrow.