Philadelphia Employment Law News

Entire Arena Football League Team Fired at Olive Garden

What better place to have a team dinner (or mass firing) than the Olive Garden?

The owner of the Arena Football League team the Pittsburgh Power, Matt Shaner, took the team out for some pasta and breadsticks hours before their game against the Orlando Predators and told everyone at the dinner table they were fired.

The AFL players had been set to strike, but Shaner apparently wanted to deal the first blow with the AFL team firing. Mid-meal, all of the players got up and left, reports Yahoo!Sports. The players and the league had reportedly been having differences over game checks and the union wanted a 300 percent increase. Sounds like quite a significant raise, but hold judgment until you learn how much the players were actually getting paid.

So, how much do you think a pro football player (even in the AFL) gets paid? These are very large people, often with NFL prospects, who put their bodies on the line every game.

Some may guess that AFL players get $5,000 per game (or $90,000 a year). You’d be quite wrong. Others may guess that AFL players must get at least $1,000 a game (or $18,000 a year). Again, you’d be way overshooting. Amazingly, AFL players currently receive only $400 per game or $7,200 a year.

Given this stinginess, it’s probably a safe bet the players had to pay for their own Olive Garden meal too. After all, players who did not split with their unions and return to the team had to find their own way back from Orlando to Pittsburgh (hello, Greyhound).

Matt Shaner took a hard-line against his employees and union members. Generally, employers cannot discriminate against employees because of union membership. The fact that Shaner welcomed back players who split from the union could expose the AFL owner to a possible labor grievance.

The Pittsburgh Power AFL team firing at Olive Garden was a strong act by the employer. The act could land Matt Shaner in trouble for union bias.

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