The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSLPA) announced Thursday that it has become an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
By becoming AFL-CIO’s 57th affiliate, NWSLPA aims to leverage the parent union’s organizational and training programs for all its members, including the Women’s Global Leadership Program. It also hopes to make use of experience from other sports associations. The NFL Players Association is also an AFL-CIO affiliate.
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“I think first and foremost [becoming an affiliate] sends a message that we are workers like everyone else, “NWSLPA CEO Meghann Burke told ESPN by telephone. We see ourselves as no better and no different.
“I do not think it is a secret that we have mentored [other players unions]. We have certainly been able to learn from past experiences and what other PAs have been through. But by joining the AFL-CIO, we can also learn from the centuries-long struggle for workers’ rights and benefit from their wealth of resources, education and relationships. “
The NWSLPA, which represents 200 players, is currently in dialogue with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) to draft the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the two sides. Through its #NoMoreSideHustles campaign, NWSLPA seeks significant increases in the minimum wage, which is currently $ 22,000 a year, and often requires players to have other jobs. NWSLPA is also pushing for improved working conditions and freedom of action.
“We feel that autonomy over a player’s career is no different than the autonomy that other workers have over their rights, and that is what we are fighting for in this contract,” Burke said.
As a sign of the growing relationship between the NWSLPA and the AFL-CIO, last Tuesday players from the NWSL’s Portland Thorns joined striking Nabisco workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union on the picket line.
“We are excited to welcome these dedicated players to the Federation,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the athletes in their fight for fair pay and dignity at work. They have shown that their struggles as workers on the football field are the same struggles that workers from all walks of life have in jobs across this country: the need for secure jobs, fair pay and to be treated with respect. We know the power of the collective voice and that we win when we stand together. “