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AFLPU Officially On Strike (Updated 8:30 pm)

Adam Markowitz
Friday March 9, 2012


ORLANDO – The 25th season of the Arena Football League is going to start off with replacement players on the field when the Pittsburgh Power take on the Orlando Predators.

The Arena Football League Players Union (AFLPU) Executive Director, Ivan Soto proclaimed on his Twitter just after 6:00 p.m. (ET), "The AFLPU is on strike. All teams that are playing this weekend are on strike!"

ArenaFan.com saw several players the Pittsburgh Power outside of the Amway Center on Friday night approximately two hours before the game. None were available for comment.

Soto told ArenaFan.com, "The Power players were fired and Orlando place on recallable assignment. ULP charges will be coming."

This is the end of what has been a bloody week between the AFLPU and the owners. The AFLPU is requesting more pay for their players than the $400 per game that they signed contracts to play for the 2012 season. The PU requested a raise to $1,350 per game as part of a collective bargaining agreement, but the AFL did not respond with anything more than an addendum to the AFL player contract.

The League was willing to move salaries up to $500 per game, a proposal that AFLPU Vice President Steve Watson declared to be, "Laughable."

On Thursday afternoon, the AFLPU called a press conference to announce that the PU proposed a tentative agreement that would cover the first four weeks of the year at a proposal that was, "North of 35% of our original proposal," per Soto.

The proposal was assumed to be around the neighborhood of $850 or $875 per game. It is unknown whether the players' proposal was rejected by the owners or not at this hour.

What we do know is that the players for the Predators and Power have all been taken out of the building. According to Soto, Commissioner Jerry Kurz is trying to talk the players into crossing the picket line and breaking the Union, though Kurz was seen on the field at the Amway Center at 6:00.

The owners' proposal, per Soto was $8,000 per team per game, which is even less than the $400 per game that the players were making.

As of 7:00 p.m., ArenaFan has gotten confirmation that the replacement players are officially being signed as we speak. The kickoff of this game is set for approximately 8:30 p.m., though there have been words that the game will be delayed to make sure all of the replacement players are properly signed.

UPDATE (7:45 p.m.)The players that are currently on the field are a collection of some of the replacement players and real players. Collin Drafts has been confirmed on the field for the Predators. Kyle Israel, one of the replacement quarterbacks, is also throwing passes in pre-game warm ups. Kickoff is set for a bit after 8:30 p.m. here at the Amway Center.

Please check http://www.facebook.com/arenafan/photos for pictures of the game, and join us in the ArenaFan Chat Room (http://www.arenafan.com/chat).

UPDATE (8:00 p.m.) – Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review posted a story this evening confirming that the entire roster for the Power was released. Lonnie DeWalt, Mike Washington, Anthony DeGrate, and Andrico Hines were confirmed to sign contracts to play tonight for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh owner Matt Shaner said, "Rowley will never play for the Pittsburgh Power. We have decided that he does not fit our system."

Shaner also stated to the Tribune-Review, "The players were released. Neither the team nor the Arena Football League have any travel obligations to them."

Ivan Soto responded at 8:08 p.m. via email to a request for a statement from ArenaFan. He replied, "I am negotiating with the league as of 736pm… no further comment."

UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: The AFLPU Vice President, Steve Watson told ArenaFan.com, "Players stand united. If today's actions were an attempt to intimidate the rest of the players in the league, then they do not know our resolve!"

The Predators were announced as a team. They have no names on the backs of their silver jerseys. Pittsburgh is donning its road whites, and there are names on the backs of the players that crossed over.

ArenaFan.com will keep this story up to date as it develops.


 
Adam Markowitz is 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 14 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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