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Labor uncertainty continues as Power play home opener

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Friday, March 23, 2012
 

Pittsburgh Power owner Matt Shaner has spent the days before Friday night's home opener at Consol Energy Center helping to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the union that includes multi-tiered salary levels for players.

"I'm doing a lot of flying around the country," he said.

But Shaner said there are limits to how far the Arena Football League can go in contract talks.

"We do have an economic model we have to follow," he said, "or we will end up how the league did in 2009 when we were unable to play."

Meanwhile, union executive director Ivan Soto, who has not renewed a strike threat since the AFL's opening night March 9, has proposed multiple pay scales, including one that takes away housing and food benefits, but increases each players' pay from $400 to $1,350. He also suggested retaining housing and food, with salaries of $750 and a $250 bonus for starting quarterbacks.

Shaner refused to discuss specific league proposals, but Soto said one from the league calls for $500 per game and $1,650 for quarterbacks.

"Having any one player get over 300 percent more than another is not acceptable," Soto said. "We have tried to be flexible, but the league has pretty much been set in stone with no other flexibility."

Despite the labor uncertainty, the league has played two weeks of its season, with the Power (1-0) and Friday night's opponent, the Philadelphia Soul, tied for first place in the American Conference East.

Worried about a possible strike, Shaner fired his entire roster during the pregame meal two weeks ago at an Orlando, Fla., Olive Garden. A few hours later, he welcomed back nearly half of the players and watched as the Power beat the Predators, 40-26.

Then, he offered to re-sign all but two from the original roster and 18 returned. Through it all, Shaner said, "Team unity seems to be very strong."

Power gameday

Philadelphia Soul at Power

When/where: 8 p.m. Friday/Consol Energy Center

TV/Radio: NFL Network, TribLive Radio

Records: Soul (1-0); Power (1-0)

The last time: The Power defeated the Soul, 61-48, on July 22, 2011, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Of note: The Soul leads the Arena Football League in passing yards per attempt (10.2).

Players to watch

Power: Mike Washington, WR — He recorded 166 receiving yards against the Orlando Predators on March 9, placing him third in the AFL.

Soul: Jeff Hughley, WR — He set single-game franchise records for all-purpose (360) and kickoff return yards (265) last week against the New Orleans Voodoo.

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