U.S. Soccer wins procedural round in women's suit

Lawyers for U.S. Soccer and the United States Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association met in Federal court for the first on Tuesday in a procedural hearing, and the court granted U.S. Soccer's request for an expedited schedule on its motion for summary judgment and gave the Players Association 21 days to respond to the federation's complaint.

As reported by James Vlahakis from the U.S. District Court in Chicago, the judge ordered the parties to return to court on March 3 -- a month earlier than she had initially set a status hearing and three months earlier than the Players Association wanted.

U.S. Soccer's position has been that the threat of a strike hangs over the SheBelieves international tournament in March and the start of the NWSL season in April, and it wants a resolution of the issue of whether it has a valid agreement in place with the Players Association that would prevent the players from striking before the end of the year.

This was perhaps the strongest argument from Monday's response by U.S. Soccer to the Players Association’s filing:

"It is not just in US Soccer’s interest to have this dispute resolved promptly; a resolution is very much in the best interest of the Players Association and its members. If the Players Association is correct that there is no CBA and, thus, no legal impediment to its right to strike, the Players Association should want to know that because it would give the Players Association significant economic leverage and the ability to pressure US Soccer to reach a new agreement. But, if the Players Association is wrong, and strikes in violation of an existing no- strike clause, the potential liability to the Players Association could be staggering.

"Given the above, if the Players Association is really as certain of its position as the Opposition suggests, having that determination in hand as soon as possible would be very much in its favor at the negotiating table. So, one must ask why is the Players Association seeking to delay a resolution of this straightforward issue? US Soccer submits that the Players Association is not at all certain of its position, and wishes to use the threat of an illegal strike to leverage US Soccer. Any delay in the resolution of this matter allows the Players Association to maintain that threat, and that leverage. The Players Association’s request for delay is akin to saying to this Court: We know pointing a loaded gun at US Soccer’s head to get a better deal than we have is wrong, but we are asking you to turn a blind eye for a while so we can continue to point the gun and see what we can get."
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