Union fires back

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Peter Schmitz agrees there is some urgency in the meetings this weekend between the National Lacrosse League and its players association.

But the president of the association won't be pressured into signing a deal even if the league has set a Monday deadline before suspending the season.

"I don't think there's any question that the deadline was set in order to get a deal done," Schmitz said. "But we're not going to be forced into a deal that the players can't accept.

"Deadline or no deadline the contract has to be good."

Today Schmitz and George Daniel, the league's deputy commissioner and CEO, will sit down in New York in an attempt to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement.

The league has said if an agreement can't be reached by Oct. 15, they'll suspend the upcoming season.

"I think most of issues are things that can be worked out, but there is some strong opposition to the direction the league is trying to go," Schmitz said. "The players don't have a lot of options other than not playing.

"If the league is trying to force a long-term deal that's not equitable, the players are not going to accept it. It's really that simple.

"We're in a unique position where almost every player has another employment option.

"While the guys enjoy playing the game, they don't rely on that source of income to survive."

The key issues, as with most contract negotiations, are the length of the agreement and salaries.

Currently, the league has a maximum wage that teams can pay players. They are also looking for a five-year contract on the new CBA.

"There is no sports league operating without some kind of cap systems," Daniel told Sun Media Thursday.

"Other leagues closed down and lost seasons to make sure they have good cap systems."

The players union, meanwhile, wants to eliminate any type of salary restriction and are looking at a shorter-term deal.

"The truth of the matter is that there may be a cap in place, but 90% of players haven't achieved that cap," Schmitz said. "In essence, the owners have managed to control themselves. What they're worried about is removing the cap then having certain owners, that can afford in a big way to take care of their players, will."

Much like the issues during the NHL lockout there is some concern by the players union as to the legitimacy of some of the owners financial statements.

Despite some rumoured grumbling to the contrary, the union president says his players are on board and would be willing to sacrifice the season to stand up for their position.

"I'd say that's pretty clear," Schmitz said. "Obviously none of us are really interested in not playing.

"But the ownership has painted them into a box and I don't think that was a good move."


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