The CanPL Wants You (to not form a union)!

Player's just want a seat at the table

We finally got some transparency from the CanPL. Let’s hope this is to continue.

A couple days ago the league released details about its salary structure. Although not stated directly, the choice was likely as a result of pressure being put on it by fans and other places that were alarmed by the low salaries that were being reported.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, there were starters in the league making less than $20,000 a year. That clearly was unsustainable for the players and, to their credit, the league has looked to address it.

The headline of the disclosure was that there is now a $22,000 minimum salary in the league. The players I have spoken to since have a few questions about whether that $22,000 includes the housing allowance that they receive (most players are given a separate cheque monthly with a housing allowance, which is taxed), or if that’s a $22,000 base salary and they can expect housing on top of it.

That’s a significant question to answer, but, regardless, the players and their representatives at the union are viewing this as a win.

The union Tweeted out that about 30 players received pay bumps to the $22,000 level as a result of the policy change. Some of those bumps were literally doubling their salary.

Additionally, the league said that each team has a $1.2-million salary cap, for both players and coaching and technical staff. They must spend between $650,000 and $850,000 on players. That seems to be about a $100,000 jump in the previously reported player spend, which likely represents the minimum salary costs.

Based on the language the league used, which states that the cap “includes salaries, housing and travel allowances and individual player bonuses but not league or club accomplishment bonuses,” it would seem that the $22,000 is, in fact, not counting those housing costs.  

In terms of the performance bonuses mentioned, one player I spoke to suggested that the money there was not particularly game changing. He described it as a “few hundred here and there.” He stressed that he could only speak for the club that he had dealings with, as the bonuses varied from team to team.

All and all, the players still have concerns and questions. Of course, they would have less if they had been involved in the discussions around this. They were not as the league is still not recognizing the player’s association.  

The decisions are still being made unilaterally, without the players at the table and that’s a problem. Not to be cynical, but it is a common anti-labour strategy to give a small gain to the workers just before or during a union drive to convince those on the fence about the value of a union to stay away. The company’s benevolence is essentially being used as a weapon against the union, even though the sacrifice they are making is easily affordable and, often, gets rolled back once the union threat is gone.

That might not be happening here, but the perception by some is that it very well could be.

Again, this mistrust could be significantly reduced by simply giving the players a seat at the table. That’s all they are really looking for at this point. It doesn’t seem like much to ask for.

Note: For anyone who feels that the union is just looking to profit off the players here and doesn’t have their best interests in mind, I’d suggest that if that were the case the executive would actually be paid for their work (they are not) and that the dues would be more than $20 (which is what the players are being asked for).