american football announced Tuesday that it has offered “identical” CBA proposals to the unions representing the US Women’s National Team and the US Men’s National Team. The offer is not an attempt to resolve the lawsuit brought by the Equal Pay Act USWNT players. those players demand backpay and other damages arising from terms in their current CBA, which expires December 31, and prior CBA. However, the offer is in line with US Soccer’s public commitments that it wants the two teams to be treated equally and that it is up to those teams to agree.
The US Soccer statement also expressed hope that the two unions “come together to negotiate a single contract”. To date, the teams have chosen to negotiate through separate unions, which has led to different collective agreements and different systems for wages and other working conditions.
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While USMNT players negotiated a reward structure where they can earn high bonuses but waive guarantees, USWNT players negotiated higher guarantees and lower bonuses. That framework reflects, at least in part, USMNT players earning much higher salaries from their club teams and thus relying less on payments to US national teams. The USMNT collective agreement expired a few years ago, although the terms of an expired collective agreement remain in effect (under the status quo employment law principle) until there is a new agreement or a deadlock in negotiations.
USWNT and USMNT players – featured in a recent amicus brief argued that USWNT players should have been paid “higher wages” than the men – could negotiate unanimously or even go so far as to formally form one union. However, the mechanisms of forming one union would be multifaceted as each team is currently represented by its own union (USWNSTPA or USNSTPA). To strip an existing union of its bargaining power would require the decertification process.
That would include at least 30% of the players in each negotiating unit signing cards requesting a decertification election, the National Labor Relations Board certifying the votes and setting an election date about two months later, and then a majority. vote for decertification at the election.
If the unions for USWNT and USMNT continue to negotiate separately, US Soccer said it will invite each union to join the other’s negotiations. That invitation, the US Soccer statement stated, is “in the interest of complete transparency.” US Soccer has maintained that it has previously offered the USWNT union the same pay structure as USMNT players, but the female players have turned it down.
The US Soccer statement also reiterated that the FIFA World Cup prize money to be split between the two teams must be “equalized” and will go so far as to “disagree with a CBA” that does not include an equalizer. FIFA awards far less prize money to women and is the source of bonus money for both teams. In a statement last Friday, the president of American football, Cindy Parlow Cone . said stressed out that “only FIFA controls” prize money and that “US Soccer is required by law to distribute those funds based on our current negotiated CBAs.” Parlow Cone wants the CBAs to equalize the prize pool and provide “identical game bonuses and identical commercial and revenue-sharing agreements.”
Subject to settlement, USWNT players’ lawsuits with US Soccer will extend beyond the expiration of the current CBA. A yet-to-be-named panel of three Ninth Circuit judges is expected to hear oral arguments in USWNT players’ appeal against US Soccer’s award of summary judgment by Judge Gary Klausner next spring or summer. A Ninth Circuit ruling would be made several months after the hearing. The ruling could lead to a petition to the US Supreme Court for further investigation.
With the help of Luke Cyphers.
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