AFL Players Return To Work Less Than 24 Hours After Initial Labor Stoppage
The Arena Football League Players Union “ordered its players back to work Saturday morning with an apparent resolution” to the work stoppage that began Friday night, according to Michael Harris of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Details of an agreement are not yet known. The AFL's 25th season kicked off Friday night with a Pittsburgh Power-Orlando Predators game with “both teams using replacement players.” A handful of players on both teams “had crossed the lines and did play.” AFLPU Exec Dir Ivan Soto tweeted that the union and the league “were working on a deal all the way until 5 p.m. Friday just several hours before the Power and Predators game.” When a deal “wasn't reached, or placed in limbo, both teams' owners, in essence, fired their players and went with replacement players” (NOLA.com, 3/10). In Orlando, Austin Lyon noted Friday’s game “became a sideshow as replacement players were used for the first time in league history.” Predators LB Marlon Moye-Moore, one of 19 players released by the team before Friday night's game, said, "About 5 o'clock, my owner, Brett Bouchy, calls me and tells me that he put all of our guys on recallable waivers, and we're all cut. 'Don't show up to the arena,' and that's it." Lyon noted “many fans in the announced crowd of 13,002 expressed anger about watching replacement players.” Predators fan Dara Vandevoir said, "It's ridiculous, and half of the people didn't even know we were going to see scab players out there" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/10). In Tampa, Brandon Wright noted Friday’s game was shown on NFL Network and the announcers “didn't initially have rosters to identify players to the television audience” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/10).
DOWN TO THE WIRE: Soto said that he “submitted a proposal to the league outlining a temporary collective bargaining agreement at 2:15 Friday afternoon.” He said that the league “presented a counteroffer and gave him a 5:30 deadline, but players said they were released before that time” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/10). In Chicago, Seth Gruen noted starting AFL QBs “earn a weekly stipend of $1,200 while all other players make $400 per week.” Housing and two meals per day are included. Chicago Rush QB Russ Michna said, “It’s not necessarily anyone is looking for a contract increase. It’s a combination of both sides are just trying to make sure everyone is on the same page. I don’t know if it has anything to do with money” (SUNTIMES.com, 3/10).