TROIS-RIVIÈRES — For Chris Ackie, one of the two player representatives for the Alouettes, it all came down to the ratification bonus in the new collective bargaining agreement.
“It gives money to experienced players who have served this league for years,” the veteran linebacker said on Friday. “That’s a good kickback for those who deserve them.
“The money is important to a lot of players across the league,” Ackie added. “A endorsement bonus, a lot of guys haven’t seen anything from the CBA since 2014. And a lot of those players from 2014 aren’t even here. It’s great that boys who have been playing in the Eredivisie for years get something from this SCBA.”
The new seven-year agreement between the CFL and its players’ association was ratified Thursday night — allowing exhibition games to begin Friday night on schedule and hopefully easing the bitterness that developed between the two sides and resulted in a four-day strike that began on May 15, only the second in history. of the league and the first in nearly 50 years.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie had set a deadline for approval of the latest offer at midnight Thursday.
The new deal calls for a $1,225 million or $136,111 per club ratification bonus. It is estimated that each experienced player will receive about $2,100 gross, although Ackie said there could be a tiered system; the players with more tenure would receive a larger share of the bonus pool – something that remains undecided.
The seven Canadian starters remain unchanged this season. Beginning in 2023, that will increase with someone who will be considered a naturalized player — American-born with five years of CFL experience or three on the same team. Two additional naturalized players, one on each side of the ball, may be on the field for no more than 49 percent of the play.
There are also salary cap increases and a raise in the minimum wage, though that won’t take effect until next season, when it’s raised to $70,000. By the end of the CBA in 2028, the salary cap will be $5,998,889.
“This deal is just better,” Ackie said. “It is clearly better. We can keep seven Canadian starters. The option is there to rotate an American up to 49 percent. That player can be used in certain packs. It gives that player … who has stuck … a chance to jump in for certain packs, but allows the Canadian player to progress on his position.
“You won’t be 100 percent happy with everything,” added Ackie, who decided to become a rep last season. The Cambridge, Ontario native will be joined in that capacity by Montreal defensive tackle Almondo Sewell.
While Sewell has declined to comment on the CBA throughout the camp, Ackie has complied with all media requests. But Friday he hoped it would be talked about for the last time.
“I feel like I’ve been talking about the CBA for months,” he said. “And now it’s been like every day since crunch time. I’m glad I don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
While head coach Khari Jones is busy preparing his team for next season, the threat of another work stoppage kept looming in the background.
“I had a feeling it was going to go through, but I didn’t have a plan B,” he said. “It goes on or I go into a deep depression.”
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