USLPA files suit against Charlotte Independence

The new CBA gets its first big test

This past Wednesday, the USL Players Association filed suit in federal court against the owners of Charlotte Independence.

As I am sure you will recall,  the Independence dropped from the Championship to League One in 2022 in anticipation of the new Charlotte FC team in MLS starting up last season. That triggered compensation rules under the USL’s still relatively new CBA, which required that players get paid under their old Championship contracts, agree to a new contract or get three months severance under the old contract.

That seems fairly straightforward an most likely not contentious. However, in the case of one Independence player, it became so. The USLPA followed the USL’s grievance procedures set out under the CBA, and the USL found in in the favor of the player and ordered payment of $27,500 plus interest, to be paid no later than June of last year. Obviously, the Independence’s owner demurred, and the PA finally felt it had no choice but to file suit.

As far as we can tell, this the first time the process has gone to court, and it will be a fairly significant test of the strength of the CBA. Overall, it should be a slam dunk decision as it involves failure to honor the terms of a contract.

Why are we reporting on this here? Well, you’ve probably guessed that the player in question is our own Enzo Martinez. And that the club stiffed its departing legend does not exactly constitute a good look. It also means that Enzo was being paid at an annual rate of $110,000, which may or may not indicate what the Legion is paying him (it’s not anywhere near enough, of course).

The Independence ownership has hardly showered itself in glory of late. Apparently employees of the club have had a hard time getting paid on time as far back as the summer of 2020. This was at the same time that the principal owner, Dan DiMicco, got into a feud with the club’s main supporters’ group, Jack’s Militia, over various political and social positions he had espoused, such that the club set up its own supporters group. DiMicco later stated that he was selling his interest, but it is not clear if that has happened at this point. The club’s managing partners is Jim McPhilliamy, who also owns and operates the Charlotte franchise in Major League Lacrosse.

All told, this does not bode well for the Independence and is an unfortunate and embarrassing situation for the league, which appears not be at fault here.

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