Stalling CBA negotiations put start of 2018-19 NLL season in jeopardy

The stalemate between the National Lacrosse League and the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association has been well documented over the past month, and on Tuesday, league commissioner Nick Sakiewicz officially set a deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement to be signed.

In a letter addressed to PLPA president Peter Schmitz, Sakiewicz presented an ultimatum.

Peter:

In light of your repeated advice to me and the League, both in writing and orally, that the players of the PLPA on your instructions will not be (and have not been) attending training camps or submitting to physiccals until and unless an agreement on a new CBA is reached, and with impending commencement of the 2018-19 season now only three weeks away, we obviously must face the reality that we are unable to operate our League as scheduled.

Unfortunately, Wednesday, November 14 is the last possible date that wer can make the necessary arrangements to fly players in for training camps, make hotel reservations, arrange for doctors to conduct physicals, and thereby hold training camps and formulate rosters necessary to commence the season.

Accordingly, we are unfortunately constrained to advise you that unless the PLPA agrees to the League’s proposal of October 31, 2018 by 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, November 14, 2018, the first two weeks of the season and all games contained therein must and will be immediately and irreversibly cancelled.

I am available 24/7 to receieve your response. Thank you.

 – Via Zach Currier

In 2013, the two sides agreed to a seven-year CBA that included an opt-out clause after five years. The PLPA invoked the clause in January, forcing negotiations to begin. News on talks remained mum until after the 2018 NLL Draft in September. This is the first CBA negotiations that the league and players’ association have gone through with Sakiewicz as commissioner. The NLL was last in danger of a lockout in 2009. However, a deal was able to be reached before the start of the season.

The league last made a proposal on Nov. 7, which was ultimately turned down by the players’ association. The PLPA reportedly sent a counter-offer to the league that was also rejected, according to association representative and Vancouver Stealth forward Corey Small.

The potential halting of the start of the 2018-19 campaign is a massive blow for both parties. Over the summer, two new expansion franchises – the Philadephia Wings and San Diego Seals – joined the league. The NLL also announced a new franchise in Halifax for the 2019-20 season. This expansion offered more jobs for players who would otherwise be forced to wait for a chance to crack a roster in the former nine-team league.

The problem boils down to player salaries, an issue that has long been present in professional lacrosse. Almost every player is forced to work second jobs in order to make a comfortable living.

As a result of the ongoing negotiations, NLL teams have been forced to cancel their preseason games, with the Toronto Rock and, more recently, the defending champion Saskatchewan Rush having to axe their respective warm-up clashes.

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