Late last night, multiple sources conveyed information to me that the AFL Players Union is threatening another work stoppage. And with the AFL playoffs starting this week, this news couldn’t have come at a worst time. While details are still sketchy, reports are that AFLPU President Ivan Soto has said that there have been multiple issues between the union and the league in regards to ratifying the collective bargaining agreement that was agreed to back in June. Soto has said that the issue is over the league trying to take away “certain rights of the players”.
Although he hasn’t specified what exactly those rights are Soto has said that the option of a work stoppage is back on the table. While the legitimacy of the union has been questioned, they have been very busy during the 2012 season. Back on week 1 of the regular season the league almost had a work stoppage then. The season opener between Orlando and Pittsburgh was played with much controversy as both teams dismissed their regular players and played the game with replacement players. This was all because Soto and the union threatened to strike before the game.
The basis for the unions threats has been their demand for a salary increase for the players. In past years the AFL was able to play their players a fairly decent amount of money. When the economy tanked in the fall of 2008, the AFL was one of the many businesses hit hard by the financial fallout. And as a result they were forced to suspend the 2009 season. The league restructured for 2010 and has been back in business ever since. But in order to keep the finances regulated, the league had to scale back on player salaries. The AFLPU has said that the AFL has become profitable once again and that the players deserve a pay increase.
But AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz has said that the leagues recent profitability has only been able to pay for current expenses. The union doesn’t buy it and thus the current stalemate as come about. After week 1 the league and the union had put aside their differences because both sides agreed to work out a deal. But as the month of May came around both sides walked away from the table. Once the calender reached June, the union was encouraging the players to strike. Back on June 8th the Cleveland Gladiators were happy to do so and forfeited their game with Pittsburgh.
And as a result of this the NFL Network cancelled their June 8th broadcast of the Philadelphia/Milwaukee game, and tape delayed the June 15th game between Orlando and Tampa Bay. But one day later on June 16th, it was announced that the league and the union had finally come to an agreement. Both Jerry Kurz and Ivan Soto were attending the Chicago/Georgia game at Allstate Arena. It was at this game that both sides agreed in principle to a deal and decided to forge a collective bargaining agreement between both sides. This would have been the first agreement of it’s kind in league history.
After both sides agreed, they said that the formal CBA would be announced within a few days. The announcement never came and the assumption was that both sides kept the agreement under wraps. That was until recently when Ivan Soto came out with this latest information. The hope is that the league will be able to finish the season without issue and then they can work things out during the off season. But I guarantee you that this is not the last we’ve heard from Ivan Soto.
I will keep you updated on this situation as it develops.
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