Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Collective Bargaining Problem

With no real Rider news to discuss (other than the news destined to break 5 minutes after I post this) I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss everyone's favourite topic: collective bargaining. There has been a lot of talk about negotiations between the CFL and CFLPA with the current contact set to expire after this season. Given the nature of topic this will likely be less funny than my usual commentary... unless of course you don't find me funny in which base this post will be as funny or more funny than usual.

Collective bargaining is actually a topic where I'm qualified to opine. Unlike football, where I'm really just on opinionated jackass, I actually have university education and work in the human resource field. So that means I'm an opinionated jackass with a couple expensive pieces of paper attesting to my superiority. 

I'm going to go through a few of the major hurdles I see facing the CFLPA. Historically they have been at a disadvantage in negotiations and I think will continue to be.

The football clubs in the CFL exist to make money, not operate a charity (even and I would say especially the community owned ones). So like any business their aim is to maximize profits by minimizing operating costs. Labour costs are generally the biggest those. So while it might be nice to think they should do things like up the minimum salary out of the goodness of their hearts, that would be contrary to what makes a business successful. Why should they pay someone $75,000 when they have an abundant supply of people willing to work for less? And while certain players will likely say no to the CFL based on the low salary, on the whole, teams still have no problem finding import players to play for league minimum. Until that changes there is little pressure on the teams to up minimum salary.

Union strength is built on solidarity with ones brothers and sisters in the union. A union's ability to have everyone work together for the same goal can dictate their ability to succeed. This is where the CFLPA has a major weakness (and the owners are well aware of it). You can essentially split the CFLPA into 3 camps: Canadians, import veterans and import rookies. Much has been made about the needs of the rookies: minimum salaries, option years, etc... But the problem is that Canadians (and to a certain extent import vets) don't care about those. They aren't making league min so they want the cap to grow so they can get more of the pie. Who runs the CFLPA? Canadian and veterans. Who already have the most benefits and job security? Canadian and vets. So the desires of the rookies (or 2nd year Americans) tend not to make it to the top of the agenda. The other thing is that newcomers are the least likely to strike because they need the $$ the most. The owners know this and so by giving a few shreds to the Canadians and vets they can play hardball with minimal risk of a strike. If the CFLPA could ever get completely united on one of 2 key issues and flex their collective strengths, they could probably force the owners' hand. But currently their interests are too diverse and divided. Until that changes, advantage owners.

So while I expect these negotiations to be nastier and more public, I have little reason to believe the owners won't prevail with another lopsided deal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All this is true. But I do see 2 things that may change. Even the vets & Cdns know the CAP has to up a lot. It's patently obvious with the money thrown at coaches & mgmt the teams can hardly plead they're poor. Secondly the lack of a gtd contract for players is bad for everyone. Players have caught on & are going for one year deals heavy on upfront money. Bad for the fans who don't like stars leave, bad for players who have no security, bad for clubs who could sign players for multi-year deals at a lower cost/year & build for sustained success. It would be smart to make those changes. I'm hopeful that happens but we'll see.