Major League Soccer players continue to use social media as an avenue for advocacy and solidarity ahead of impending collective-bargaining negotiations with owners. Players across the league Friday changed their Twitter and Instagram avatars to an MLS Players Association graphic and posted messages declaring, “I am the MLSPA.”
— Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17) August 30, 2019
The timing of this action coincides with Labor Day weekend. The graphic being posted is referred to as the ‘“I Am The MLSPA” Mosaic’ in a press release from the union, and it is meant to “the strength and unity that exists among all MLSPA members.”
“Our members come from over 70 countries, speak multiple languages, range widely in background and play for 24 clubs all over the United States and Canada,” the release reads. “Off the field, however, they are members of one players association, one supportive community, and speak with one unified voice to positively impact the lives of past, current, and future players.”
MLS’ current collective-bargaining agreement expires Jan. 30, 2020. As the negotiations for a new deal draw near, Twitter has been used to raise awareness on one issue in particular. Throughout the year, players have used the platform to highlight the travel issues they face flying commercially to away games. Teams are limited to four charter flights per regular season. Players will attempt to increase that number in the new CBA.
The MLSPA has made a point to unify American players and those who come from abroad in the coming negotiations. Some believe a divide between these groups hurt players during the last round of negotiations. Included in Friday’s press release is a video featuring Patrick Mullins, Scott Caldwell, Clint Irwin, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Miller, Luis Robles and Ethan Finlay touting the union’s solidarity. Each of those players is American and speaking English in the video.
There is no start date for official negotiations set, and representatives for MLS players and owners have been in discussion for the past two years. The MLSPA has made it known a strike is not desired, but it is a possibility if they believe a fair deal is not reached.
“We are ready to take the step that we need,” Atlanta United center back Leandro González-Pírez said during the MLS All-Star Game earlier this month. “This is our future. It’s the future of the players. We have to fight for that.”
Representatives for the MLSPA did not respond to a Pro Soccer USA request for comment.