CPL Athletes Send Unified Pro-Union Message To League
This evening saw Canadian Premier League players take it upon themselves to deliver a unified message to the league: they want PFA Canada recognized as the official players’ union.
As both FC Edmonton and the Halifax Wanderers stepped onto the pitch at IG Field tonight, something unusual was afoot: despite 25 degree weather, everyone had their anthem jackets on. As each time lined up, however, the jackets were unzipped to reveal PFA Canada shirts requesting that the league recognize the union.
Former York United FC defender Luca Gasparotto – who retired at the age of 26 to pursue a more financially stable career elsewhere – applauded the move, along with the likes of Ben Fisk, Dylon Powley, Joshua Kloke, and numerous fans from coast-to-coast.
Players have become increasingly vocal about the need to unionize over the course of the bubble tournament, which will have seen all eight Canadian Premier League teams play eight matches apiece in just 25 days – something which Atletico Ottawa defender Drew Beckie hailed as ridiculous.
The congested nature of the Winnipeg-based bubble has combined with an unusually short preseason window to see most clubs dealing with a multitude of injuries, with athletes also voicing displeasure about playing in 35 degree weather on a turf pitch during a heat warning.
Players had also been left in the dark regarding league scheduling, with Sergio Camargo releasing a rumour-bomb to emphasize how players were forced to rely on rumours earlier this year to determine where they were playing. Even then, he later said, the league only let them know that the season would begin with a Winnipeg bubble a day or so before it was announced.
When the league teased the full 2021 Canadian Premier League schedule in the midst of the aforementioned bubble, players were also quick to criticize the CPL for keeping them in the dark on when they would be returning home while teasing the scheduling news to the public at large.
PFA Canada Executive Director Dan Kruk has expressed that many players are working-class people fighting for basic workers’ rights and fiscal stability, while his league counsel Paul Champion has even claimed that some clubs had colluded to limit player movement. In our own talks with athletes, some have pondered why they put their bodies on the line when they’d be making more at the likes of Tim Hortons or Subway, though their desire to unionize ultimately stemmed far beyond strictly financial motivation.
The prospective players’ union tweeted in a response to tonight’s events, publicly asking the league to open communications with the group:
PFA Canada was officially granted FIFPro membership this year, with mounting pressure from fans and players alike eventually seeing the league reveal 2021 Salary Cap information for the first time in a bid to show itself as being transparent. By and large, however, it appears that the bulk of athletes want much more from the league, and unionization is a big step for them to get there – though as John Molinaro reports, they’ll be in for a long and grueling process for such.