PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The United Steelworkers (USW) today proudly announced its affiliation with the United Football Players’ Association (UFPA). Founded in 2020, the UFPA is composed of football players with experience in the National Football League, Arena League of American Football, XFL, Canadian Football League and others.
Together the USW and UFPA will fight to represent professional athletes in the United States Football League (USFL), XFL and other potential leagues who are not covered by contracts like those in the NFL Players’ Association and win the benefits and protections of a union contract.
“Labor, hours and working conditions for players are areas where a union can make a difference and improving them will give everyone an opportunity to thrive,” said Ryan Cave, who played eight seasons of professional football and has been representing players for ten years. “From resolving issues with payroll to dealing with injuries and workers’ compensation problems, players need a strong voice that the USW can help provide.”
“My experience of playing through injuries in between surgeries and assisting other players through several league bankruptcies showed that we cannot rely on the league to ensure our job security and financial stability,” said UFPA President Kenneth Farrow II, who played six seasons of professional football. “Joining a union to bargain for better treatment right now is the most important step we can take to raise our standard of living in the future.”
Farrow said that a strong union can provide an outlet for players to discuss racism experienced both on and off the field and take collective action to remove the barriers that keep us divided.
“We are standing together and taking action to address and improve our working conditions, including travel accommodations, the condition of practice facilities, scheduling and other concerns,” said UFPA Vice-President Nick Temple, who played seven seasons of professional football in multiple leagues. “Professional athletes deserve to be treated with dignity and respect on the job by their employers, and the USW has been empowering workers to fight for fairness and justice for generations.”
Temple believes that improving transparency around pay and other concerns will better prepare players to make decisions and improve the league by retaining more and better players.
The USFL draft will take place later this month on Feb. 22 and 23, when eight teams will select about 360 players.
The league’s first game of the season is scheduled for April 16, 2022, in Birmingham.
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in tech, public sector and service occupations.
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