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NWSL, NWSLPA begin talks for first collective bargaining agreement

Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos

The National Women’s Soccer League and NWSL Players Association announced on Wednesday that formal negotiations have begun between the two parties for the league’s first collective bargaining agreement.

NWSL players have been without a CBA since the league’s inception in late 2012. The NWSLPA was founded in 2017 and has been officially recognized by the league as a labor organization. The NWSLPA represents all players in the league who are not federation players (those who are paid by U.S. Soccer or Canada Soccer for their club play).

“The sustainability of our league is inextricably linked to the stability of players’ careers,” said NWSLPA executive director Meghann Burke. “Through this CBA, we seek to secure stability, equity, and longevity of a playing career in NWSL for all players.”

Burke was announced on Monday as the NWSLPA’s first full-time executive director. Ex-player Brooke Elby was previously the NWSLPA president and will transition to an advisor role. Ex-player Yael Averbuch also held the role in the past and founded the NWSLPA.

In a press release, the NWSL said that the negotiation process formally began in late 2020 and that the CBA “will govern a wide range of terms and conditions of employment ranging from player compensation and benefits to travel to medical and safety issues.” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird declined to share much detail during a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, but said she looked forward to the process.

“The collaboration between the league, our clubs and the NWSL players has been absolutely critical to our collective success this past year,” Baird said. “Building on that trust and partnership, we’re all eager to better define the relationship between the league and the extraordinary women that take the pitch each week, and I’m grateful to the NWSLPA’s leadership for so thoughtfully engaging in this process.”

U.S. women’s national team players who are paid by U.S. Soccer for their participation in the NWSL are not part of the NWSLPA. U.S. players’ CBA with U.S. Soccer will expire at the end of 2021.

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