The United States Soccer Federation and its women’s world champion announced on Tuesday that they had resolved the players ‘outstanding demands on working conditions, a rare moment of relaxation – and mutual happiness – in the sides’ longstanding legal battle for equal pay.
The agreement, filed in federal court in California, is equal parts labor peace and legal maneuvering. By removing one of the final unresolved issues in the team’s wage discrimination lawsuit, U.S. football and its new leadership team have moved on from another point of contention in a dispute they’d rather end.
For the players and their lawyers, the deal offers an opportunity: By waiving their claims of unequal working conditions, the women stars paved the way to appeal against a decision in May denied most of her equal pay claims.
US Football President Cindy Cone hailed the deal, saying it signals the association’s efforts to “find a new way forward” with the women’s team and hopefully a way out of the rest of the litigation.
“This agreement is good news for everyone,” said Cone, “and I believe it will serve as a stepping stone for further progress.”
The working conditions agreement codified efforts that US football had already begun to eliminate disparities in areas such as staff, travel, hotel accommodation and related issues when there are men and women on the national team at the camp. U.S. football said it would put the agreement into effect immediately.
According to a US soccer official familiar with the deal, the deal does not address previous working conditions, nor does it include payments to the players. However, in resolving players’ claims for workplace discrimination, players can focus on undoing the decision on their equal pay claims. If successful, these efforts can be worth tens of millions of dollars in cashbacks and damages.
“We are delighted that the USWNT players fought for and achieved long overdue equal working conditions,” said Molly Levinson, a player spokeswoman, in a statement. “We now intend to appeal the court’s decision, which in this case does not take into account the central fact that women players were paid at lower rates than men doing the same job.
“We remain as dedicated as ever,” added Levinson, “in our work to get the same pay that we legally deserve.”
The players and US soccer have been on a path into their relationship since May when a federal judge, R. Gary Klausner of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, dealt a devastating blow to players’ equal pay arguments.
In his decision, Judge Klausner not only dismissed the players’ claims that they were systematically underpaid by US football compared to players on the men’s national team, but he also said the association had substantiated its argument that the women’s team was actually more earned a cumulative and average base per game “as the men’s team in the years at issue in the lawsuit.
The ruling was a significant, albeit unpopular, victory for US football. The players – stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and others – are among the most popular and best-paid employees of the association and had committed themselves to the fight for equal pay. With years of media training, popularity, and large social media followers, they have worked effectively since they went public with their struggle to gain fans and be critical almost five years ago Association sponsors to their cause.
The new agreement on working conditions is expected to be incorporated into the new collective agreements for both national teams, along with triggers that would automatically lead to mutual gains in future negotiations.
The teams have long had separate unions, separate collective agreements, and separate pay structures – this is part of the reason They are paid differently and, the women argue, unfair – but these deals have yet to be ironed out. The men’s agreement is expected for the end of 2018. The current C.B.A. expires at the end of 2021.