MLS Player’s Association Ratify 2015-2019 Collective Bargaining Agreement

The MLS Players Association announced their ratification of the 2015-2019 MLS Collective bargaining Agreement on July 16, 2015. In a press release, the player’s association announced some major changes to the agreement.[1] Here are some major points of interest.

According to the MLSPA press release, the new CBA will allow “free agency” for MLS players 28 years old or older, with at least 8 years of MLS service making below the CBA-determined maximum salary. For those that qualify for that “free agency,” their new contracts are also limited: If players make less than $100,000, they can negotiate a raise of up to 25%; if players make between $100,000 and $200,000, they can negotiate a raise of up to 20%; If players make $200,000 or more, they can negotiate a raise of up to 15%. Teams can raise these percentage increases for players who “significantly outperform” their contracts. It should be noted that this provision probably does not affect international “Bosman” transfers.

Additionally, the salary cap will increase by $390,000,00; from $3.1 million to 3.49 million for the 2015 season and increase by around 5% each year moving forward. That means by the salary cap will top out at $4.24 million for the final season. Minimum salaries will also see an increase, from $48,000 for senior players in 2014, to $60,000 in 2015, topping out at $70,250 in the final year of the CBA in 2019.[2] With the increased minimum salary, the CBA also provides for guaranteed contracts for players 24 years old with at least one year of MLS service.

As an aside, the MLSPA ratified, but never finalized the 2010-2014 CBA. Major League Baseball was in a similar situation between 1985 and 1989.[3] Clearly, this does not stop competition, or inhibit league growth.[4] Nevertheless, it is important to know the history of collective bargaining in the MLS, and where the league and the union are in the negotiation process.

To see all of the provisions you can read the MLS Player’s Association’s press-release here.

[1] See, http://www.mlsplayers.org/images/Ratification%20-%20July%2016%202015.pdf

[2] Reserve squad salaries will also increase, from $35,000 in 2014 to $50,000 in 2015, topping out at $56,250 in 2019.

[3] See, “Turns Out MLS Never Finalized 2010-14 Labor Deal”
The New York Times, http://www.mlsplayers.org/images/Ratification%20-%20July%2016%202015.pdf.

[4] Generally, when CBAs are ratified but never finalized, the original CBA controls, subject to the changes outlined in the memorandum of understand ratified by the Union, save for disputed provisions. Id.

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