TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian Football League has presented players with a modified collective bargaining agreement that addresses their concerns about a ratification bonus and the ratio of Canadian players on each team's roster, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Tuesday.
The offer will remain on the table until midnight Thursday, Ambrosie said.
The commissioner said the amended offer contains a $1 million ratification bonus pool for players. It also reduces the proposed number of nationalized Canadians on each roster from four to one while also cutting the required number of Canadian starters from seven to six.
A nationalized Canadian is an American who has spent either four years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.
Roster protections for Canadian players have been a sticking point in negotiations that led to the CFL's first work stoppage since 1974. The league and the CFL Players' Association appeared to have a deal last week, but the union rejected the tentative seven-year agreement on Monday. That deal called for the number of Canadian starters per team to increase to eight, including one nationalized Canadian.
“We know our roster challenges don’t surface when all of your players are healthy,” Ambrosie said. “But ours is a collision sport where players get hurt and once you get deeper into your roster, often those players aren’t quite ready.
“That’s why we protected all of the roster spots to make sure Canadians have the chance to be on rosters and train and develop themselves. This protects Canadian jobs, which all of our teams felt strongly about. It rewards American athletes for a contribution they make to our teams and communities.”
CFLPA executive director Brian Ramsay said the league’s offer was an ultimatum and a departure from the league's stated goal of working in a partnership with players.
“Yes this is an ultimatum with a deadline,” Ramsay said. “It feels very much like the way the old CFL does business.
“I think a partnership creates solutions. Right now, our members are still on the field as we try to create solutions while the CFL issues ultimatums. Coming out publicly like this isn’t the right approach. They did try this May 14 and it didn’t work then and we’re confident through our player reps that our membership will see that now.”
Players with seven of the league's nine teams had gone on strike when the tentative agreement was reached last week. Players have remained in camp during this week's negotiations, but a second work stoppage could lead to games being postponed or canceled. The CFL’s exhibition schedule is slated to open Friday night, and the season is set to start on June 9.