The USFL is trying to get its feet off the ground. A national union is trying to guarantee collective protections for its players.
Via Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com, the United Steelers union has filed a petition to represent all USFL players. Roughly 360 players currently are employed by the Fox-owned league. The steelworkers union was brought in by the United Football Players Association, a union formed in 2020 after XFL 2.0 imploded due to the pandemic.
“We needed some backing when it comes to labor, labor law, and things like that, and being able to unionize,” said UFPA c0-founder Kenneth Farrow said. “So the steelworkers have done some great work in the field of football, you know, with the NCAA and some of the things that they’ve been able to accomplish in the past.”
One of the goals would be to negotiate better terms for USFL players, who currently have little or no leverage.
“We’re not trying to come in and shut anything down,” Farrow said. “But we believe that if these leagues are going to continue moving forward, year after year, we need to have a collective voice.”
The USFL has until May 10 to post the petition in the workplace. Although no employer wants a union, the USFL is saying all the right things.
“The USFL welcomes and respects the right of our players to organize with any union they elect to represent them,” the league said in a statement. “We understand that the federal agency responsible for addressing these issues is currently dealing with potential representation of our players. We intend on fully cooperating with the agency to resolve any questions that exist concerning representation.”
Privately, the USFL and Fox surely feel differently. At a time when the USFL hopes to make enough money to thrive, having a union representing the players won’t make it any cheaper or easier.
That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. The players deserve proper representation. For many, the desire to play football will get them to agree to any terms — even if they aren’t fair to the players.