Brock expert says CHL settlement leaves room for further action on behalf of players  

MEDIA RELEASE: 19 May 2020 – R0088


With the announcement of a settlement in a six-year legal battle between the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and its players, a Brock expert says there remains a need to protect the well-being of major junior players across the country by ensuring they are paid minimum wage.


The settlement will require the CHL to pay $30 million to former players by October 2020, which Brock University Assistant Professor of Labour Studies Simon Black says is a partial victory.


“The settlement is better than nothing,” says Black. “Due to the CHL’s effective lobbying campaign, provincial governments have exempted players from coverage under employment standards legislation, the basic minimum protections and rights afforded workers under the law.”


Black, who has written opinion pieces and scholarly articles on the case for years, says the next step is to protect the rights of current junior hockey players.


“The CHL’s business model is premised on the exploitation of young athletes’ labour,” he says.  “In their quest to avoid paying their players the minimum wage, the league has successfully fought off unionization and lobbied provincial and state governments to exempt major junior hockey players from basic labour protections and rights. And they have done so while hiding behind the myth that CHL players are ‘amateur student-athletes,’ not employees of their club.”


Black says further action on behalf of the leagues’ players must be taken by the labour movement as a whole.


“The labour movement, including players’ unions like the NHLPA, must step in to protect these young athletes by pressing provincial governments to reverse these exemptions,” he says. “While this settlement does bring some justice to former players, current players will continue to be the only workers at the arena — from the coaches on down to the hot dog sellers — that are not paid at least the minimum wage.”


Assistant Professor of Labour Studies Simon Black, an expert in athletic labour, workers’ rights and activism in high-performance sport, is available for interviews.


For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:


* Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations, Brock University or 905-347-1970


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