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AFL prepares for possible work stoppages

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, June 7, 2012, 6:51 p.m.

Work stoppages at three Arena Football League games tonight are “highly likely,” but Power players won't be asked to participate, players union executive director Ivan Soto said.

The Power, who are scheduled to visit the Cleveland Gladiators, were caught in the middle of a threatened strike March 9 in Orlando, Fla., when owner Matt Shaner fired the entire team two hours before the game.

“Our goal is not to destroy the Pittsburgh Power,” Soto said. “They have been put through the wringer.”

Power lineman Beau Elliott, who is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, said he hopes other teams will get involved this time.

“We did our duty,” Elliott said. “It's time for somebody else to take a little action.”

Soto said it remains unclear how many players would honor a strike order.

“Some teams may have 50 percent; some teams may have 100 percent,” he said.

When Shaner fired his players before the season opener, he had replacement players ready.

League officials wouldn't publicly say whether replacement players would be used tonight in the event of a strike.

“If they are going to put that product on the field to their demise, good luck to them,” Soto said.

Soto said he is frustrated with contract negotiations aimed at achieving a collective bargaining agreement. The union is seeking a per-game raise for players to $600 from $400 while it has lowered by $100 its proposed starting quarterback bonus to $1,275.

The league is offering $500 per player per game, with a $1,275 starting quarterback bonus.

Other non-financial issues also need to be resolved, Soto said.

“We don't think what they are asking for is appropriate,” AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz said.

Tonight's other games are Philadelphia at Milwaukee and Orlando at San Jose, Calif.

The Power game won't be televised on NFL Network, as previously scheduled. The league announced Thursday the weekly AFL telecast would be moved to Milwaukee.

“The top game we have for Friday is (in Milwaukee),” Kurz said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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