On Monday, the United Football Players Association sent out the following message to its members. Notifying that there will be a vote on June 6th on whether the USFL players should join the United Steelworkers.
In February, the United Steelworkers Union (USW) announced an affiliation with the United Football Players’ Association (UFPA).
“The United Football Players Association (UFPA) is 501c4 Domestic Nonprofit Corporation filed in the State of Texas that was founded by, led, and organized by current and former professional American football players (XFL, CFL, AAF, Arena) to facilitate communication, education, and empowerment of players not represented by the National Football League Players Association.”
Members who are now playing in the USFL are set to vote on if they should join the union. According to Daniel Kaplin of the Athletic, the USFL is on board, sort of.
“The election to unionize USFL players is scheduled for June 6th in Birmingham, Alabama. The league has said it does not oppose the effort”
However, Pro Football Talks Mike Florio, whose website is owned by NBC Sports. NBC also broadcasts USFL games. He had a slightly different, off-brand take on their broadcast partners real motivation.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston sent out a memo to players before the vote.
“We have and always will stand on being a Players-first league. Right now, without union representation, we have the ability to negotiate directly with you and other players. We believe this direct relationship — without making the United Steelworkers your exclusive representative — benefits our players and the League. We favor continuing our direct relationship with players, without negotiating everything through the United Steelworkers.”
Florio calls it BS.
“Sorry, but that’s just corporate BS. They don’t want to deal with the Steelworkers because the Steelworkers will force them to give something more fair and appropriate than the take-it-or-leave-it offers currently made to individual players. In an industry featuring young athletes who simply want to play football, the power inherently resides with the league. The league sets the terms, and if one player says, “No, thanks,” the next player will say, “Yes, please.” That’s the extent of the direct negotiation.”
Some of the USFL players were part of both the AAF and XFL. They remember what happened when both leagues shut down. AAF players were left having to pay hotel bills. For the XFL, Vince McMahon did pay out players for games that were not played. But the players did not have anyone representing them with the league, they were on their own
The XFL will be watching all of this closely as they are set to have Player Showcase events in June and July, with kick-off in February of 2023.