USL Players Union Formed, Recognized by League

Orange County SC

A USL players union has been formed and, as announced by USL on Tuesday, has officially been recognized by USL Championship clubs.

The new players union, named USL Players Association (USLPA), will represent those competing in USL Championship–the Division II circuit under the USL umbrella. Players who are on loan from MLS will not be represented by the new union, as they will continue to be represented by the existing MLS Player’s Association.

With the players association in place and USL Championship teams recognizing the union, the two sides are now expected to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The goal is to complete negotiations of the CBA before the 2019 season begins next spring, and it is expected that several topics–including minimum salaries–will be discussed. More from the Washington Post:

The league this week formally recognized the USL Players Association as an independent labor union representing the workforce in the U.S. second division, known as USL Championship, which sits a level below Major League Soccer.

The sides are expected to open negotiations soon in hopes of striking a deal on a collective bargaining agreement before the 36 teams open the season in March. Among the prominent issues: minimum salaries.

“It’s a first step in hopefully something that will be productive for both the league and players,” North Carolina FC defender Connor Tobin — a member of an 11-man executive committee that led the effort to unionize — said in an interview Monday night.

“This group has been unified around the idea that this is really something we want to create, that’s going to be sustainable and provide a platform for future generations of players. We want to move the needle on some issues, hopefully in the near future, but this is really about creating something that, over time, goes hand in hand” with the growth of the league.

In an announcement issued on Tuesday, USL confirmed that its USL Championship clubs had recognized the union. “We look forward to working through this process with the USLPA and our team owners, and we are confident that our league, our clubs, our players, coaches and our fanbase will all be stronger as a result,” USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “In many ways, this is simply the next, natural step in the evolution of building a great and enduring professional soccer league.”

Photo courtesy USL and Orange County SC.

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