Non-allocated players in the National Women’s Soccer League -- players whose contracts aren't funded by U.S. Soccer or the Canadian Soccer Association -- ratified the formation of the NWSL Players Association by an overwhelming majority.
The NWSL is unique in that it has several class of players: U.S. national team players represented by their own players association, a
smaller group of Canadian national team players, and non-allocated players. NWSL teams also use amateur players to fill out their teams during roster shortages (primarily due to international
Pay and working conditions of NWSL players have been an issue in the young league. In 2017, the team salary cap for non-allocated players is only $315,000 and the maximum
salary is $41,700. The minimum salary was more than doubled to ... $15,000.
The NWSL attracts almost all the top American players but retaining them in the long term is an issue because
of the low pay. FC Kansas City, for one, won back-to-back NWSL titles in 2014 and 2015 but its roster has been depleted because of retirements: defenders Leigh Ann Brown and Amy
LePeilbet and midfielder Lauren Holiday after the 2015 season, Jen Buczkowski in May 2016 and Frances Silva after the 2016 season.
The next step will be for the
NWSL to recognize the players association. If the league chooses not to, the players association will have to petition the National Labor Relations Board for recognition and the right to bargain over
pay and working conditions.
Several labor law issues arise, given the unique nature of how NWSL teams form their rosters. What's the appropriate bargaining unit for NWSL players among the
allocated and non-allocated players? Does the NLRB consider amateur players "employees" for the purposes of including them in the players association? Should those amateur players -- periodic fill-ins
-- be paid?
The spokesperson for the NWSL Players Association is former WUSA and WPS player Meghann Burke, an attorney at law firm Brazil & Burke, based in Asheville, North
The NWSL Players Association issued the following statement:
“We are proud to announce the official formation of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Players Association. We, the Non-Allocated Players of NWSL, vow to build on the opportunity that has been afforded to us, as well as work to achieve those goals that have not yet been attained. We
honor the vision and progress of those who came before us...Pledge to work with the League and Allocated Players to advance continued improvements in women's soccer...Commit ourselves to doing all in
our power for the betterment of our members so that we may best contribute to the common goal: a world-class product on the field, and to be role models and inspire the next generation off the
"Membership in the Association is limited to all active, Non-Allocated Players in the NWSL, including all amateur players currently on
NWSL rosters. Allocated NWSL players are not included because they are separately represented by associations set up under the auspices of their respective national teams. However, the
Association will work with those players to achieve goals common to all players in the NWSL and women’s soccer in general.
"The formation of the
Association is a first and important step toward forming an official players union for Non-Allocated NWSL players. In addition to serving as the voice of the Non-Allocated Player pool, the
Association will strive to build a collaborative working relationship with the NWSL Front Office and will work to improve communication among all players.