Sask. Roughriders players show up to practice despite labour dispute
The Saskatchewan Roughriders went on with practice on Monday at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon despite CFL players rejecting the new collective bargaining agreement with the league.
"There's not too much of an update right now. We had a call to go over the next steps from the vote," said Riders kicker Brett Lauther, the team's representative to the CFL Players' Association.
"Both sides want to get something done and obviously, the membership didn't think the ratification was good enough."
Lauther says he would have thought the deal would have gone through, from what he heard from other teams across the league. He thought it seemed like a "pretty fair deal across the board" but acknowledged some sticking points.
The CFLPA executive had recommended acceptance of the deal, which featured increases to the CFL salary cap and minimum salary. It also included a revenue-sharing formula for the union and gave players a chance to have the final year of their contracts guaranteed up to 50 per cent.
While the CBA called for a return to padded practices — one hour weekly during the regular season to a maximum of 12 — it extended medical coverage for retired players to five years from three.
The deal also called for the number of Canadian starters to increase from seven to eight but that would include a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team. In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49 per cent of all snaps on either side of the ball.
That bothered many current Canadian players, to the point where there were legitimate concerns about whether the CBA would be ratified.
"Guys are in different stages of their career, in (their) lives, the yes or no is dependent upon what they want to do," Lauther said.
"If there is a strike or potential loss of games it's not good for anyone or the league."
Coach Craig Dickenson was keeping his focus on the field.
"We know there is stuff going on behind closed doors and we respect the process and we just keep rolling on," he said.
Dickenson wasn't surprised the players showed up to practice at Griffiths Stadium.
"These guys want to play, they love football and that's why they're here."
The Roughriders are scheduled to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next week, but if a deal isn't done shortly players could start missing practice.
"Obviously we're not just going to continue to keep practicing if nothing gets done in the short time," said Lauther.
"We'll see what happens in the next couple days."
With files from The Canadian Press
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