Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Professional Hockey Players’ Association Authorize CHL Strike

Some big news just came in regarding the upcoming season for the Texas Brahmas and other Central Hockey League teams. The Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA) has authorized a strike against the CHL, as the two sides can't come to agreement over the league's collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This strike is effective immediately. The CHL issued a press release regarding this turn of events, and CHL Commissioner Duane Lewis had this to say:

“We are disappointed that the PHPA has taken this step at this point in the negotiations. The CHL is and has been negotiating in good faith with the PHPA and have already come to agreement on many issues benefiting the players. Some of which have been instituted already. There are many critical issues to both sides that cannot be negotiated in a short time frame.”

The CHL and PHPA have met four times this summer discussing an initial Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Previous negotiations between the PHPA and similar hockey leagues have taken as much as 15 months to be successfully bargained.

“This is not a quick process,” said Lewis. “We have worked for 16 seasons to build rapport with the players and feel from their accounts in the past that we have been successful in doing this. To the best of the League’s knowledge there has been no vote of the majority of players to authorize a strike. We are confident we will be playing hockey on October 17th.”

The PHPA seemed to hint that the discussions haven't been as close as the CHL is intimating. They say the league has yet to respond to some of the issues that are part of the agreement, and are still on the table.

"The economic impact of the PHPA’s comprehensive proposal package, most of which has yet to be countered, is modest by today’s standards,” stated PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “The League has not responded to necessary player priority components for a finalized agreement such as salary cap, off-ice insurance, per diem, and travel reimbursement, which has significantly impeded the negotiation process.”

“On May 22, we submitted a new Standard Player Contract (SPC) proposal to the CHL Owners modeled on the player contracts in the NHL, AHL and ECHL. It did not contain any provisions which were out of the ordinary or inconsistent with recognized practices in professional hockey. Although we have repeatedly asked for the Owners to respond to our SPC proposal, and although many promises have been made to us about a pending answer to our requests, the CHL Owners have offered nothing. It is all too obvious that there is no willingness to negotiate even these basic contract provisions,” added Landon.

“We ask all CHL players to stand united. We believe the League’s tactics are calculated to break the Players’ Association. The PHPA’s negotiating team will continue in its quest to deliver an Agreement that we can recommend which meets the needs of players and their families, while respecting the future well being of the League and it’s Member Clubs.”

A copy of the letter sent to CHL players from the PHPA can be found here.

Training camp for all CHL teams is set to open on Monday, October 6th. How the league will move forward when that date arrives remains to be decided. Hopefully the league will not end up embroiled in the same sort of strike situation that the NHL was in a few years ago; that's not good for the league, the players or the fans. What are your thoughts on this, readers?

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