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Soccer Association Joins AFL-CIO, Adding to Sports Union Roster

The Major League Soccer Players Association has decided to formally affiliate with the AFL-CIO, the country’s largest labor federation and players union announced Thursday.

The MLS Players Association joins six other professional sports unions the AFL-CIO counts as affiliated members. It comes just three weeks after the WNBA Players Association announced they would join the federation and five months after the Major League Baseball Players Association did the same.

The addition of soccer players leaves just National Hockey League players and the National Basketball Association as the two major professional sports unions outside of the federation.

“From locker rooms and classrooms to coffee shops and warehouses, workers all over the United States are demonstrating the power of organizing on a daily basis,” MLSPA Executive Director Bob Foose said in a statement.

“Over the past twenty years, our players have fought to improve the working conditions and rights of athletes in Major League Soccer,” Foose said. “We look forward to working with the AFL-CIO and standing beside its member unions as we fight for every worker, whether it be an athlete or a stadium employee, with one collective voice.”

Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement that the affiliation is about building “power for workers and ensuring professional soccer players have the strength of the entire labor movement behind them every single day.”

The AFL-CIO’s 58 unions represent more than 12 million workers. The MLSPA will be active on the AFL-CIO’s Sports Council, a group the federation founded last year, Thursday’s announcement said.

The council includes: the WNBPA; the MLBPA; the National Football League Players Association; the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association; the United Football Players Association-USW; the US Women’s National Team Players Association; and United Soccer League Players Association-CWA. The women’s national soccer team is on the sports council but isn’t an AFL-CIO-affiliated member.

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