The Major League Soccer Players Union, the organisation that represents players in North America’s MLS, has voted to ratify a collective bargaining agreement it struck with the league earlier this year.
The MLS and the Union agreed to the deal in principle on March 5, just one day before the start of the 2015 season. The agreement will run for five seasons, from the current campaign through to the end of the 2019 season.
Following a recommendation by the Union’s player-only Bargaining Committee for MLS players to ratify the deal, the organisation has confirmed that 91 per cent of its members voted in favour of ratification.
Key points to feature in the deal include players that are at least 28 with eight years of MLS service and whose contracts have expired earning the right to become a free agent, but with certain limitations on raises.
Other points that feature in the deal include an increase for the minimum salary of the first 24 players on each team’s roster, while each MLS club’s budget will increase each season through to the end of the agreement, at which it will reach a figure of over $4.2m (€3.9m) for the 2019 campaign.
In addition, players aged 24 or older with at least one year of MLS service will be guaranteed a contract, with the Union stating that this point will be of benefit to 81 per cent of current MLS players. The Union also said there will be a number of other increases such as termination pay, appearance fees, per diem for trips and relocation expense reimbursement.
“The negotiations were tough as always, but because of the dedication and commitment of our player representatives, we were able to conclude an agreement that provides five more years of substantial improvements in player compensation and benefits as well as the introduction of free agency in MLS for the first time,” Union executive director Bob Foose said.
Speaking at the time of the provisional agreement in March, MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “This agreement will provide a platform for our players, ownership and management to work together to help build Major League Soccer into one of the great soccer leagues in the world.”