TORONTO — The CFL and its players continue to discuss non-monetary issues in collective-bargaining talks.
The two sides ended two days of negotiations Tuesday. Face-to-face discussions will resume next Monday-Tuesday in Vancouver.
Talks began March 11-12 with non-monetary issues having consuming the last seven negotiation sessions. Union senior adviser Ken Georgetti said while the CFL and its players are close to getting to financial matters, they're not there just yet.
"We've been making good progress on disposing the non-monetary issues on both sides," he said. "We're on track to where should be and should wrap up the non-monetary (items) soon."
When pressed for a timetable regarding when non-monetary talks will conclude, Georgetti — a former long-time president of the Canadian Labour Congress — showed the deft footwork of a shifty quarterback effectively escaping the rush.
"Before we start the monetary," he said with a chuckle. "There's a lot of important issues in the non-monetary side (like) player safety, all the concussion protocols, all sorts of things that are important and have a big affect on the players' present lives and their futures.
"I'd say we're getting close to the summit on the half-way point (of talks). It will speed up the closer we get to May 18."
The current collective-bargaining agreement is set to expire May 18 with training camps scheduled to open the following day. Still, Georgetti remains confident a new deal can be reached in time.
"Oh, there's still a lot of time," he said. "As I've said, as long as they (CFL) co-operate with us we can wrap this thing up very quickly.
"So far, so good."
Brian Ramsay, the union executive director, said the most important factor is both sides reaching a fair and equitable deal.
"Everyone knows and sees the calendar," he said. "But it's about finding a solution that appropriately addresses the needs and concerns and that's what's important to the players.
"We've talked a number of times that there are issues, whether it's health and safety or partnership, that need to be heard and addressed on behalf of the players."
However, Ramsay said the players understand it will take a lot of work to achieve an equal partnership with the CFL.
"One hundred and six years of habits are hard to break," he said. "But things have to change . . . from a partnership and growth and health and safety perspective as well as for the future of the game.
"Those things have to change."
As it has done throughout the process, the union will spend the remainder of the week to digest what was discussed Monday and Tuesday, meet internally and with the players and develop counter-proposals that will be tabled next week in Vancouver.
"They (talks) are progressing," he said. "We've made progress from where we started.
"You're prepared to do it (negotiate financial matters) but you're letting this process play itself out and worrying about showing enough respect to where we are in the process."
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press