Soccer league players announce partnership with Communications Workers of America
Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC (Football Club) players kneel on the field before a Major League Soccer playoff match Nov. 24, 2020, in Seattle. | Ted S. Warren/AP

The United Soccer League Players Association (USLPA), the union representing all of the United Soccer League’s Championship and League One players, and the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a labor union representing hundreds of thousands of working people across many different sectors, have signed a partnership agreement to build solidarity, increase collaboration, and provide collective support. 

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with CWA and are grateful for the relationship we have forged over the past few years,” said USLPA Executive Committee member Tommy Heinemann, a retired soccer player who played for several different MLS (Major League Soccer) and USL (United Soccer League) teams and now is an assistant coach for the Belmont Bruins men’s soccer team in Nashville. “Their union expertise combined with their proven track record of supporting workers is second to none. CWA is a community-focused organization, which aligns with our organization’s belief that players play a vital role in developing and enhancing local communities. We view our collaboration with CWA as strong support for our organization in our prolonged fight to complete a historic collective bargaining agreement.” 

“We’re excited to announce this partnership with the USLPA,” said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. “The players have shown strong solidarity over the last three years organizing for a voice on the job. They have demonstrated strength in navigating the acute challenges of the pandemic and negotiating a return-to-play agreement with league and team owners this season. CWA members look forward to supporting the players and working with them to build on the success they have already achieved. We are eager to assist them in reaching a fair agreement on a first contract that guarantees standardized minimums, livable wages, and better working conditions for all players across both the USL Championship and USL League One.”


For nearly two years, the USLPA has been in talks with the league to try to reach a collective bargaining agreement at the USL Championship level. The process has proven to be challenging, especially when COVID-19 brought play to a halt. After months of rigorous negotiations, the players reached a return to play agreement for both Championship and League One for the 2020 season which enabled competition to resume. In July, the USLPA resumed traditional collective bargaining at the USL Championship level.

For decades, the player experience in the lower divisions of soccer has been characterized by a dramatic range of conditions, some of which are detrimental to the sport itself. This reflects the continued struggle to achieve sustainability in the lower divisions of US soccer. The USLPA sees its role as serving as an integral voice to assist both the USL Championship and USL League One in their efforts to stabilize and grow the second and third divisions in a sustainable way.

“We look forward to continuing to build solidarity with CWA and its hundreds of thousands of members with this new partnership,” said USLPA Executive Committee Member Connor Tobin, who plays for Forward Madison FC in USL League One. “CWA has done amazing work representing their members, and we particularly appreciate their focus on community building, which is something the USLPA strongly believes in. CWA members are active members of their communities in nearly every USL market. We greatly appreciate CWA’s support for the players as we work towards a first contract.”

“We appreciate this relationship we’ve forged with CWA over the last few years,” said USLPA Executive Committee Member Trey Mitchell, a retired USL and MLS goalkeeper who is now a Multifamily Specialist at CBRE. “We have great admiration for how CWA represents its hundreds of thousands of members and the communities they live in, and we are excited that they have the players’ back as we work to finalize our negotiations for a first contract.”


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.