MLS announces to first-ever labor agreement

Major League Soccer (MLS) today announced the ratification of the first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in League history by the MLS Players Union. The Agreement will run through the 2009 MLS season. The ratification marks approval of the agreement reached between the League and Union leadership in November. Among the highlights of the CBA are a rise in players' minimum salary, a newly established player 401(k) retirement plan, increased incentive bonuses and a mutual commitment to taking a leadership position against substance abuse and performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.

"MLS is proud of the partnership it has formed with its players which has led to this historic agreement for soccer in the United States," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "We are committed to working side-by-side with our players to continue America's emergence as a Soccer Nation. I want to once again thank and congratulate the MLS Players Union for their hard work and commitment to finalizing an agreement."

Among the highlights of the CBA:

•  MINIMUM SALARY: raise in the minimum MLS player salary by 16 percent up to 41 percent by 2009;

•  PLAYER RETIREMENT PLAN: establishment of a 401(k) program for players with an employer contribution from the League;

•  WIN BONUSES: an increase in regular season win bonuses per team ($2,750 for each victory);

•  PLAYER APPEARANCES: players to make promotional appearances on behalf of their MLS team with appearance fees provided in cases of commercial appearances;

Another highlight of the CBA is a joint commitment on performance-enhancing drug testing and discipline that positions MLS and its players as leaders in the sports industry. "MLS players are not just world-class athletes, but also exemplary young men who value their position as role models for the millions of young soccer players across America," said Garber. "Their track record since the creation of our program in 2000 speaks for itself and I am confident we will continue to be a leader among professional sports in this important area."