A journeyman in a Philadelphia union makes more than a journeyman on the Philadelphia Union.
Major League Soccer’s players union released its 2016 salary information this week, and while some big stars in MLS are making low to mid seven figures, the salary for those at the bottom of the American soccer salary structure is roughly half your average pipefitter.
Per the MLS Players union, the lowest salary a full team player can make is $62,500, up from $48,500 in the previous collective bargaining agreement of just two years ago, while players on reserve squads make $51,500, up from just $36,500 in the previous CBA.
When the Union franchise began, the salary floor in MLS was $40,000. In 2007 — just 10 seasons ago — young players and reserve squad members routinely made $30,000, $17,700 or a ridiculous $12,900.
MLS has come very far in the last 10 years, and $51,500 isn’t that bad compared to what players at a similar level got paid in the past. Of course, when NYCFC has three players making nearly $6 million per year and LA Galaxy have three who average more than $4.5 million apiece, the disparity between the stars and reserves is somehow more cavernous now.
Philly is one of the spend-thriftiest clubs in MLS, with a reported full guaranteed compensation of $5,674,323 spread across 27 players. For comparison, Andrea Pirlo makes $5,915,690 at NYCFC this season…and he’s not even the highest paid player on his team! Frank Lampard pulls in $6 million per season, a few grand more than Pirlo and David Villa, who brings home $5.61 million. In total, seven players in MLS make more this season than the entire Union roster, including Michael Bradley ($6.5 million), Sebastian Giovinco ($7.12 million) and Kaka ($7.17 million).
But hey, they get to kick a ball for a living, and a little over 50 grand to be on the Union may not be so bad when you consider the alternative.
Only, we did, and considering those alternatives, being in a union might be more lucrative than being on the Union.
And that got us thinking: If some on the Philadelphia Union make $51,500, and the average Union salary is $210,160, how much do those in the actual Philadelphia unions make?
It turns out, some are pulling in First XI money.
A journeyman is the title given to someone who finishes their apprenticeship in many trade unions, and a journeyman in the IBEW Local 98 earns $106,121 per year, based on the reported hourly wage. That’s for a member of the union. The staff, including 14 executives and 64 support staffers for the Local 98, earned a combined $5,985,066 last year. Johnny Doc, grand poohbah of the Local 98 and pretty much all of Philadelphia politics, earned a reported $406,532, which would make him the fourth highest paid player on the Union.
A journeyman for the Plumbers Local 690 makes a $102,398, almost exactly double what a reserve player makes in MLS. A journeyman in the Ironworkers 405 earns $84,718, while an Asbestos Workers Local 14—a terrible name for a soccer club, FWIW—makes $96,200.
Not all Philly unions, however, make more than the lowest-paid Philly Union. There are just nine players on the Union who make less than six figures, seven of which earn less than $65,000 per year. The starting salary for a police officer in Philadelphia is $51,245; less than the three lowest-paid reserves for the Union. (To be fair they technically work in Chester.)
The starting salary for a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teacher is $45,360, while the Mail Handlers Union Local 308 starts at $32,290. Don’t fret, mail carriers. In 15 years you could be making just about as much as a guy one spot better than the best player on Bethlehem Steel. Let’s not even talk about what those guys make.
Mark Dent and Anna Orso contributed to this report.