TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League announced Tuesday that its USL Championship clubs have recognized the USL Players Association as an independent labor union and the exclusive bargaining representative of their players.

For years many players who have competed in the USL have complained they were not earning wages worthy of their skill and time spent playing for clubs.

“We look forward to working through this process with the USLPA and our individual franchises, and we are confident that our league, our clubs, our players, coaches and our fanbase will all be stronger as a result,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “In many ways, this is simply the next, natural step in the evolution of building a great and enduring professional soccer league.”

The USL Championship clubs, with the league serving as their bargaining agent, and the USLPA will negotiate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement that will govern the employment terms between the players and their employing clubs.

The USLPA Executive Committee, composed of Tom Heinemann, Trey Mitchell and Connor Tobin, issued a statement:

“Today is a historic day in US soccer history with the USL’s recognition of the player organized USLPA. We see this as a significant step forward in the continued development of both the USL and the US soccer landscape. We are extremely grateful to the players for designating the USLPA as their bargaining representative and look forward to communicating with all players about the next steps in this process. Additionally, we look forward to partnering with the league to not only improve conditions for all players, but to grow the stature of the league and the fan bases across North America.”

As part of the bargaining process, players who are loaned to the USL from other leagues will continue to be represented by their loaning league. For example, players loaned from Major League Soccer will continue to be represented by the MLS Player’s Association.