The Major League Soccer Players Association Tuesday announced that Eric Harrington has joined the organization as the MLSPA’s first internal general counsel.

He succeeds Jon Newman, a partner at the Washington, D.C. based law firm Sherman Dunn. Newman has filled the general counsel role since the organization’s inception in 2003 and will continue to represent the MLSPA as its outside labor counsel.

Harrington joined the MLSPA from the National Education Association, where he spent the last eight years serving as senior counsel for the nation’s largest labor union. Harrington has spent over two decades fighting for workers – in labor unions, in the federal government, and in private practice. He has led organizing drives that added tens of thousands of workers to the union ranks, led governmental reform efforts that expanded the employment and civil rights of millions of Americans, and litigated cases on behalf of employees in state and federal courts, including several state highest courts, federal appellate courts, and the United States Supreme Court.

Most recently, Harrington led a policy reform campaign that resulted in billions of dollars of student debt relief for teachers and healthcare workers.

“I’d first like to thank Jon Newman for his years of dedication to the MLSPA as general counsel,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said in a statement. Through his efforts, the MLSPA has made monumental strides in progressing player rights forward. Jon’s guidance has been critical in everything we have done over the past 18 years, and I am pleased that Jon and his firm will continue to serve as our outside labor counsel. Looking forward, I am extremely excited to welcome a worthy successor to Jon in Eric. Eric has demonstrated the same deep commitment to the labor movement for the entirety of his career. We look forward to his integration into our team as we continue to work to improve the lives of our players both current and future.”

Added Harrington: “I’m humbled and honored by the trust that the executive board and MLS players have placed in me. I am eager to get to work on their behalf and to help advance the mission of the MLSPA – uniting to fight for present and past players, our communities, and the sport we all love.”