A union representing players in the United Soccer League’s Championship and League One looked for a partner to help boost itself. It found one with the largest communications union in the country: the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

The United Soccer League Players Association (USLPA), and CWA have signed a partnership agreement to help provide support, collaborate on projects and build solidarity among its ranks.

CWA’s looking to help the USLPA, which represents more than 900 professional players across the country, in its negotiations with the United Soccer League. The USL recognized the USLPA as a union back in 2018 after efforts failed in previous years with the league and with the North America Soccer League (NASL)

The USL Championship and USL League One, are the second and third divisions of U.S. men’s professional soccer.

“The players have shown strong solidarity over the last three years organizing for a voice on the job,” stated CWA President Chris Shelton. “They have demonstrated strength in navigating the acute challenges of the pandemic and negotiating a return-to-play agreement with league and team owners this season. CWA members look forward to supporting the players and working with them to build on the success they have already achieved.”

The USLPA’s been in talks with the USL for almost two years looking for agreement on a collective bargaining agreement at the USL Championship level. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the process and suspended league play, but players eventually came back to the pitch to complete the season. Players are also looking to improve conditions in the lower divisions as well citing unsuitable conditions that affect the future of soccer in the United States.

Coming back to the pitch meant coming back to the negotiating table where they and the USL still remain.

“CWA has done amazing work representing their members, and we particularly appreciate their focus on community building, which is something the USLPA strongly believes in,” said USLPA Executive Committee Member and Madison FC Forward Connor Tobin in a statement. “CWA members are active members of their communities in nearly every USL market.”

CWA officials posted a minute-long video on its YouTube page that showed members of multiple local chapters expressing their support for the USLPA and saying they’ll stand by them.

USL officials declined AmNews’ requests for comment.

“We appreciate this relationship we’ve forged with CWA over the last few years,” stated Trey Mitchell, a USLPA executive committee member, retired USL and MLS goalkeeper and current multifamily specialist at an apartment brokerage firm, said that he’s excited with the latest development in a partnership that goes back almost a half-decade.

“We have great admiration for how CWA represents its hundreds of thousands of members and the communities they live in, and we are excited that they have the players’ back as we work to finalize our negotiations for a first contract,” stated Mitchell.