Victory for U.S. Soccer in women's CBA lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman sided with U.S. Soccer in its lawsuit for summary judgment against the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Association over whether a memorandum of understanding under which the federation and union have been operating since 2013 bound the union to a no-strike clause in the collective bargaining agreement that expired after 2012.

U.S. Soccer wanted a ruling so as to prevent the women from striking or attempting to strike before the Rio Olympics. The suit was filed in February when the federation was also seeking to enforce the no-strike clause to prevent a labor action before the #SheBelieves Cup and the start of the NWSL season. The decision also means the women can't strike during the post-Olympic matches -- a Victory Tour if they repeat as gold-medal winners. The women never said they would strike but repeatedly refused to agree to not strike.

The Federal case is separate from the EEOC complaint filed by five women charging pay discrimination.

The judge ruled that the CBA was "partially integrated" into the MOU and therefore the MOU needed to be liberally interpreted. The union argued the CBA needed to be interpreted literally -- ie. since there was nothing explicitly incorporating the CBA by reference, it should not be bound by such terms as the no-strike clause.

''Federal law encourages courts to be liberal in their recognition and interpretation of collective bargaining agreements, so as to lessen strife and encourage congenial relations between unions and companies,'' she wrote in her decision. ''A collective bargaining agreement may be partly or wholly oral and a written collective bargaining agreement may be orally modified.''

The judge noted that several parts of the MOU related to compensation and benefits were acted upon even though they were not clearly spelled out. She was swayed by emails from the union's representatives to the players that they were acting upon the terms of the CBA when they were not spelled out in the MOU. And she noted the congenial relations that reigned during the era of John Langel, the union's attorney until 2014.

The union's lawyers backup argument was that Langel didn't have authority to bind the players. The judge rejected that argument.

U.S. Soccer issued a statement that it was "pleased with the court's decision and remain[s] committed to negotiating a new CBA to take effect at the beginning of next year."

It has continued to negotiate with the union. If no agreement is reached by the end of the year, the women would have the right to strike. But without a major championship for three years -- two-plus years for qualifying for the 2019 Women's World Cup -- the women won't have much leverage.
7 comments about "Victory for U.S. Soccer in women's CBA lawsuit ".
  1. Allan Lindh, June 5, 2016 at 1:10 p.m.

    No Don, they are just trying to get what they can, while they can. Reality is they are the best in the world, and the men's team is well out of the top 20. And the men get paid more. I'd be pissed also.

  2. don Lamb replied, June 5, 2016 at 9:12 p.m.

    You are out of touch with reality then. You only get paid based on how good you are relative to your income generation. If you understand the facts of this "case," you would easily see that what the women are asking for is complete nonsense.

  3. don Lamb replied, June 5, 2016 at 9:14 p.m.

    By the way, their income generation goes beyond the income that they generate as a member of the US team for US Soccer. What they make at their full time job or respective professional teams is just as big of a factor.

  4. Bob Ashpole, June 6, 2016 at 7:29 a.m.

    Don, someone who didn't know the facts might think your argument made sense. This lawsuit concerned the interpretation of the MOU, not the pay discrimination issue. Your absurd claim that the players have no reason to strike was apparently just a way to shift your comments off topic.

  5. don Lamb replied, June 6, 2016 at 2:51 p.m.

    Bob - The interpretation of the MOU is directly tied to the case of possible pay discrimination. They are very much on the same topic. This ruling is separate, yes, but that doesn't change the fact that the women have absolutely no reason to strike in the first place. US Soccer will win that ruling too.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, June 7, 2016 at 7:04 a.m.

    Don, I wouldn't expect that anybody is going to believe that--whether the players promised not to strike--has anything to do with the administrative pay discrimination case at the EEOC, much less "directly tied."

  7. don Lamb replied, June 7, 2016 at 9:32 a.m.

    Is there another reason besides pay discrimination, which doesn't exist, for the women to strike?

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