Without a CBA in place, there’s a “possibility” union action could see Montreal, DCU forfeit CCL matches By Steven Sandor Posted on December 6, 2014 1 0 823 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter The Montreal Impact is scheduled to be in Mexico on Feb. 24, as the team is scheduled to open its two-match CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final with Pachuca. Two days later, D.C. United is scheduled to meet Alajuelense in Costa Rica. But what if those games are forfeited by the MLS sides — because the players are in a work-stoppage situation? Unless a new deal is reached quickly, there’s a good chance that there will be no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place between MLS and its players union in February. The current deal expires in January and the sides are only in the first stages of negotiations. Now, it needs to be stated that in 2010, when the union and the MLS only came to a deal just days before the start of the league’s regular season, the CCL matches went on unaffected. But that don’t-play option is open to the players if there is no CBA in place. MLS Players Union Executive Director Bob Foose stated that he wouldn’t directly comment on whether or not the players would act against the CCL matches; but he confirmed that it’s an option that would be legally open to them. “The Collective Bargaining Agreement is scheduled to expire on January 31, 2015,” Foose wrote in an e-mail. “When it expires, the obligation not to engage in a work stoppage also expires. I do not want to comment on when or if there would be a work stoppage. All I can say is that unless there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, there is always the possibility of a work stoppage.” Because the CCL games are scheduled for a few weeks ahead of MLS First Kick, they are the first real bargaining chips in any kind of MLS/MLSPU labour discussion. Montreal is set to play the second leg against Pachuca in early March, at Olympic Stadium. The last time the Impact got to the CCL quarters — in 2009 — more than 50,000 fans showed up at Olympic Stadium for the first leg of that series against Santos Laguna. The CONCACAF Champions League rulebook has laws in place regarding teams that forfeit matches. Here’s what it says about forfeits: “Once having entered the CCL, participating teams must meet all of their obligations including participating in all matches. Failure to participate in any game may be considered by the CONCACAF Executive Committee, at its sole discretion, as withdrawal from the event. Withdrawal may have a serious impact on the integrity of the event and as such the penalties as specified below will apply except in cases of force majeure or unforeseen circumstances deemed acceptable by the CONCACAF Executive Committee.” The “rules below” state that any team that withdraws during the “Championship Stage” will be fined $20,000 and will forfeit its entry fees. But the costs may not end there. From the rulebook: “Depending on the circumstances and the decision of the CONCACAF Executive Committee, a team that withdraws at any stage of the competition may be ordered to reimburse the particular Local Organizing Committee, the opposing team or teams (in the Group Stage) and CONCACAF and any expenses that they have already incurred as a result of its proposed involvement or non-involvement in the competition and also pay compensation for any damages or losses arising from its withdrawal. This is in addition to any fines imposed above.” And: “The Member Association of any penalized team shall be responsible for ensuring that specified sanctions are carried out and complied with.” CANADIAN PLAYERS Currently, Canadian players are seen as internationals on U.S.-based MLS teams. American players, though, are domestics on Canadian franchises. The same rule applies in NASL. But, the USL sees Canadians as domestics on its American teams. After hinting in July that the rules surrounding Canadians may change, Commissioner Don Garber threw cold water on those hopes earlier this week in his State of MLS talk. He went back to his old argument that U.S. labour laws forbid employers from giving any special distinction from one foreign worker over another. Foose wrote that the issue of Canadians-as-domestics falls outside of the union’s jurisdiction. “As for the Canadian as domestics rule, it lies primarily with legal and federation authorities. There are legal issues involved because you’d potentially be treating one group of foreign players differently than others. We cannot collectively bargain out of legal rules.” Last year, when we explored the issue in earnest (CLICK HERE), we contacted the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It’s the U.S. agency that ensures a fair labour market in that country. The EEOC reps told us that a pro league’s rulebook was “not a topic we cover.” Basically, the EEOC washed its hands of it. The EEOC informed us that the issue of Canadians as domestics would be more of a Homeland Security question than it would be a labour question. And, earlier this year, NASL Commissioner told Plastic Pitch magazine (fall issue, CLICK HERE) that the issue of Canadians as domestics was a “federation” issue.