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Labour dispute jeopardizes Roughnecks season

By Kristy Koehler, November 21 2018 –

The first two weekends of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) season have been cancelled due to an ongoing labour dispute between the NLL and the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association (PLPA) — the bargaining agency for the league’s players. The Calgary Roughnecks, a member of the NLL, have cancelled their first two games of the season and it appears that the rest of the season is in jeopardy.

Kelsey McCay, a representative from the Roughnecks, said that “all NLL teams have been instructed to direct all media inquiries regarding the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] negotiations to the league office.”

The NLL says that rosters have not yet been formed, as the PLPA has instructed its players not to submit to physicals or report to training camps. Statements released from both sides reflect a concern with the growth of the league. The NLL recently awarded franchises to Halifax, San Diego and Philadelphia, with rumours swirling of further expansion to come.

“A critical element to the PLPA proposal provides for compensation increases commensurate with league-wide revenue growth year over year,” said the PLPA’s statement.

The NLL counters that they have put forward a fair offer which includes a 25-per-cent increase in salary and benefits for the players.

“It is a significant improvement from where the players were at the beginning of their last employment agreement and a testament to our ownership’s commitment to continue to invest heavily in our sport and grow the league,” the NLL said in their statement.

The PLPA says they have exchanged multiple proposals with the NLL since March.

“We just completed our sixth face-to-face negotiating session with the league’s negotiating committee,” the PLPA said in an Oct. 18 statement. “The players remain united and committed to continue to negotiate for a fair contract. They are prepared to do what it takes to see that through. At this time, until a [Collective Bargaining Agreement] is reached, players intend to remain out of physicals and camps.”

The National Football League Players’ Association, as well as the Major League Soccer Players’ Association, have expressed their solidarity with the PLPA. Lacrosse players have taken to Twitter to remind fans that most of them hold full-time jobs in addition to their league play. The average salary of an NLL player in 2013 was just over $19,000 for the season. More recent official numbers are not readily accessible.

The PLPA did not respond to multiple requests for comment at press time.

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