The Major League Soccer Players Association and MLS announced on Friday that they had reached a preliminary agreement on a revised collective bargaining agreement.
According to a source, the CBA was approved by the union’s executive council and negotiating committee with a 24-11 vote. The agreement will now be sent to the full membership of the players’ union for voting, which could take place as early as Saturday. A simple majority is all it takes to ratify the agreement.
– MLS schedule: season starts April 3rd; MLS Cup Final on December 3rd
– Carlisle: Where MLS says about labor negotiations
The agreement would then have to be approved by the league’s board of governors. This is expected to take place, paving the way for training camps to open on February 22nd and the start of the MLS season on April 3rd. It also avoids a termination of the CBA and a lockout of players who had previously taken place under threat from MLS if an agreement could not be reached.
MLS announced that the proposal on the table would extend the CBA by two years to 2027, a clause the league had been fighting for since negotiations began and that had been a sticking point in the talks.
The expansion has the effect that the compensation jump is delayed, which normally goes hand in hand with a new CBA. More importantly, such an extension will put the league a considerable distance from the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the MLSPA will take the leverage to negotiate better terms ahead of the tournament and the years to come.
Sources told ESPN that the player perks included in the proposal would not include pay cuts in 2021, as well as improved conditions for free agencies in 2026 and 2027, which would qualify players at the age of 24 with four years of service. The old deal required five years of service.
Players would also receive an overall 10% salary increase in 2027 and improved salaries for players classified as senior minimum. Regarding the revenue sharing agreement for the next media rights agreement, players will receive a percentage of the difference between the new agreement (plus $ 100 million). In 2023 and 2024 this percentage will be 12.5% (a decrease of 12.5 percentage points in 2024), and from 2025 to 2027 this percentage will be 25%.
• Seattle Sounders v San Jose Earthquakes (10pm ET)
• Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew (3:30 PM ET)
• DC United v New York Red Bulls (7pm ET)
• New York City FC v Cincinnati FC (7pm ET)
• Orlando City v Inter Miami (7:30 PM ET)
• Philadelphia Union versus New England Revolution (7:30 PM ET)
• Dallas FC v Houston Dynamo (8:30 PM ET)
• Nashville SC v Atlanta United (8:30 PM ET)
• Real Salt Lake v Colorado Rapids (9:30 PM ET)
Negotiations on the revised CBA resumed after MLS asserted a force majeure clause on December 29 because of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the slower than expected adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine, MLS expects another year with little or no fans in the stands. Given the reliance on matchday earnings, MLS says the finances will be severely impacted and that players should bear some of the sacrifices.
The union had countered the fact that the approach of MLS was taken not for financial reasons, but for financial reasons. The MLSPA made $ 150 million in concessions over the life of the contract when it signed the previous CBA last June.
The invocation of the force majeure clause opened up a 30-day window for both sides to negotiate a revised CBA. Since no agreement was reached within this window, both sides could have terminated the CBA. But MLS was the only side threatening such a maneuver, stating that an unanswered deal would not only end the CBA but lock out the players as well.
The risk of work stoppage gave the league greater leverage, and MLS used it effectively to extract the key concessions it requested at the start of the talks.
This is the third time in the past year that both sides have negotiated a CBA. The two sides reached an agreement in principle last February, but neither side officially ratified the deal. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, MLS resumed negotiations, and the two sides agreed on a revised deal last June. In this deal, the league managed to insert the above mentioned force majeure clause.
Sources told ESPN that the force majeure clause will not be in effect until December 1, 2021, but will be enforceable after that time.