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AFLPU Strike Could Be Hours Away (Updated 3/9, 4:00 pm)

Adam Markowitz
Friday March 9, 2012

ORLANDO - The Executive Director of the Arena Football League Player Union (AFLPU) Ivan Soto, along with the AFLPU President James Baron held a press conference at the Orlando Vista Hotel on Thursday afternoon. ArenaFan was on the scene for announcement.

Soto made it clear that the players are searching for a new collective bargaining agreement in which his clients, the members of the AFLPU make a "fair and livable wage."

He continued, "We have submitted a few collective bargaining agreements, and we have yet to receive a CBA back from [the League]."

However, Soto did say that the owners have been working towards an interim offer which would last for four weeks. The AFLPU is willing to sign an interim agreement, and though Soto did not commit to absolutely having to have a CBA in place after that point, he did state that both the League and the AFLPU want to work towards getting a CBA to carry the league through at least the rest of the season.

When asked what the wage scale he was looking to get the players at, Soto stated, "It's probably north of 35% reduction in wages."

One can infer based upon the fact that the first proposal that the players offered was at $1,350 that the players are asking for approximately $850 per game for the first four weeks of the season.

However, Soto made it a point to say that there were more than just financial issues at stake, though he did not go into further specifics.

Both Orlando Predators Managing Partner Brett Bouchy and Pittsburgh Power Principal Owner Matt Shaner have both earlier stated that tonight's game between their teams will happen, regardless of whether the AFLPU goes on strike before the kickoff of the game or not.

The Power and the Predators are both here in Orlando. If an agreement isn't met, the Predators are planning to suit two different teams. The "actual" Predators are expected to come out for their warm-ups in silver jersey, while the "replacement" Predators are expected to be wearing either white jerseys or black jerseys.

Bouchy and the Predators have arranged for enough replacement players to account for both teams. Pittsburgh is going to be supplemented by the replacement players should the AFLPU go on strike.

Kyle Israel, a local quarterback from the UCF Knights of yesteryear is expected to be a starting quarterback, but contrary to earlier reports, sources have told ArenaFan that the he might not be the man throwing the ball around for "Team Orlando." Aaron Jones, another local high school product is going to be amongst the replacements as well. Local radio talent Drunky the Bear is also amongst the replacements, and he is going to presumably be in the lineup for "Team Orlando" in the event of a strike.

Drunky actually has some AFL experience. He was on the field for one play in 2010 against the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. The ball was pitched to him, and he lost six yards.

There are reportedly replacement players that do have indoor football experience, and there are some that have played in the AFL in the past. It is unknown whether any of them have played with either Pittsburgh or Orlando, though several have been in training camp with the Predators either this year or in the past.

Rumors have been swirling as to how the strike would take place, and the only consensus seems to be if there is a strike, that it will be essentially announced by the players on the field at some point between pre-game warm-ups and before the coin toss. Soto would not be committed to what the plan would be for a strike, but he did mention that the players don't have all that many resources and "we've got to use our leverage appropriately."

The current contract that the players are operating under calls for payment of $400 per week with a $50 win bonus for the players. There is also a bonus of $1,275 for the man that is announced as the starting quarterback an hour before the game.

Soto and the AFLPU were originally asking for $1,350 per game, and according to his Twitter account earlier in the day on Thursday, Soto stated, "We will be meeting with players to discuss recent numbers development pretty much $1350 looks like a fair deal! 19% profit left. #playball!"

According to Soto, the owners are still holding onto their financial data that he is requesting, but he has numbers that he "has confidence in" in spite of the fact that he admits, "the numbers did not come from the league."

Bouchy has come on the record and stated that the owners have offered a 25% increase in pay to the players. Soto confirmed at the press conference that his players would be making $500 per game under the last proposal for the players, but the win bonus of $50 was taken away from the offer.

If anyone was wondering if they would find out whether the strike is happening or not, Soto's comment was awfully ominous. "All of you are going to know and see what happens."

Stay tuned to for the latest developments in this matter. We will be at the game tonight covering whatever ends up happening, and we will be issuing updates as we have them.

Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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