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AFL cancels 2000 season

by Paul Reeths
February 24, 2000 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I)

AFL cancels 2000 season

by Paul Reeths

Following nearly two days of ownership meetings, the Arena Football League today canceled its 2000 season. The action comes as a direct result of an antitrust suit filed earlier this year by the Arena Football League Players Association. The league had threatened the cancellation if the players failed to form a collective bargaining unit and approach them during this week's ownership meetings in Chicago.

The suit, Guidry v. Arena Football League, stems from player complaints that league owners have conspired to withhold free agency, health benefits and higher salaries. Attorneys Jeffrey Kessler, Mark Levinstein and Gerald Krovatin represent the handful of players named on the suit, which is spearheaded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Those players include James Guidry, Calvin Schexnayder, Mike Pawlawski, Greg Hopkins and Jamal Ellis, all AFL veterans. Guidry was injured in a game last year. Two other plaintiffs, Gary Compton and Clint Dolezel, recently removed their names from the action.

Another faction of players attempted to form a collective bargaining unit over the past several weeks in an effort to save the season. It is unclear at this time whether they were unable to obtain the signatures of a simple majority of the players or if the organizing unit, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, decided not to seek collective bargaining.

The labor strife escalated last Friday when the AFLPA filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the AFL was illegally forcing the players to join an unwanted union by threatening to blacklist them.

The cancellation of the season raises serious doubts about the future viability of the league. Earlier this week, the expansion Detroit Fury decided that it would not compete even if there was a 2000 season. With several ownership groups deep in the red, others may call it quits before the league plays another game.

The owners have vowed to fight the lawsuit to its conclusion.

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