Sunday, October 4, 2009

No strike this season

CHL, PHPA come to an agreement

This time last year, the Central Hockey League and its member teams, including the Texas Brahmas, were rocked by the news that the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA) had declared a strike, citing "the League’s meaningless deadlines, broken promises, and hollow resources, which have all contributed to unproductive collective bargaining."

The PHPA had announced their certification by the National Labor Relations Board as the recognized collective bargaining unit for Central Hockey League Players after CHL players voted in favor of union representation through a secret ballot vote, conducted by the NLRB in March of 2008.

The union sought to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement on par with those they had previously negotiated for the American Hockey League and ECHL. At the last minute, on October 5th, after the two sides agreed to meet to discuss their differences, the strike was called off.

After nearly a year of negotiations, the PHPA announced last Monday, that following the CHL Board of Governors approval, that the PHPA and the CHL confirmed agreement on an inaugural Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) after the overwhelming majority of CHL Players voted in favor of the agreement.

Under the agreement, players will see increases to per-diem (meal money) and playoff shares, as well as their off-ice insurance premiums paid by the Club. However, some of the larger improvements are of non-monetary value. Players will now have a formal arbitration process, a new Standard Players Contract, receive rights to medical records and second medical opinions, enhancements to the veteran rule, travel reimbursement, and lodging provisions, as well as a revised reserve system.

“This is a great deal to start with and one on which we can build when we open negotiations in the new year,” said PHPA Executive Director, Larry Landon.Players will also have access to a variety of programs such as a Membership Assistance Program which is a 24/7/365 counseling service for players, a Career Enhancement Program for players wishing to advance their education, as well as a Group Licensing Authorization Program which protects player likeness rights.

“I would like to thank the many past and present CHL players whose input, courage, and leadership throughout this process was instrumental in reaching this agreement, paving a better path for current and future CHL players,”added Landon. “The PHPA looks to build a long-standing, stable working relationship with the CHL and it’s Member Clubs as we have in the American Hockey League and ECHL.”

“After many months of discussion, we feel we have reached a middle ground that is the basis for building a spirit of cooperation between the CHL and the PHPA,” said Duane Lewis, CHL Commissioner. “We have always taken very good care of our players and are pleased that the agreement keeps that framework intact. I would like to thank the CHL owners and players for their continued efforts towards reaching this agreement.”

Negotiations towards a long-term agreement will begin no later than February 28, 2010.

Image Credit: Professional Hockey Players Association

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