August 15, 2022

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Lawsuit to settle equal pay between USWNT and US Soccer

US female players and American football’s lawsuit to settle equal pay

For six years, members of the World Cup-winning US women’s soccer team and their superiors have argued about equal treatment of female players. They have argued about whether they deserve the same charter flights as their male counterparts and even about the definition of what constitutes equal pay.

But the long battle that pitted key members of the women’s team against their chiefs in American football ended Tuesday as abruptly as it had begun, with a settlement that included millions of dollars in payment to the players and a promise by their union of par. Paying between the men’s and women’s teams.

Under the terms of the agreement, the athletes – a group of dozens of current and former players that includes some of the world’s most famous and well-known sports – will share $24 million in American football payments. The bulk of that number is back pay, an tacit acknowledgment that the men’s and women’s teams’ compensation has been unequal for years.

Perhaps more important than the pay – for the players, sure, but also for the federation – is American football’s pledge of equal pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions, including the World Cup, in the next grouping of teams. bargaining agreements. This gap was once seen as an unbridgeable gap that prevented any kind of equal wage settlement; If closed by the federation in negotiations with both teams, the change could funnel millions of dollars into a new generation of women’s national team players.

“The process of getting to this point certainly wasn’t easy,” said Cindy Barlow Cohn, head of the NFL, in a phone interview. “The most important thing here is that we move forward, we move forward together.”

The players’ long battle with the US Soccer team, which is not only the employer but also the sport’s national governing body, has propelled them to the fore. A broader fight for equality in women’s sports and attracted the support of fellow athletes, celebrities, politicians and presidential candidates. In recent years, players, teams, and even athletes in other sports – Olympic ice hockey gold medalists, Canadian football professionals and WNBA players Reach out to American football players and their union for help in their quest to improve wages and working conditions.

Many of these players and teams have made significant gains – NorwayAnd the Australia And the Holland Among the countries whose soccer federations have committed to closing the pay gap between men and women — even as the issue of American players persists.

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“I think it’s been very motivating to see organizations and employers admit their mistakes, and we’re forcing them to make it right,” said Alex Morgan, a striker and former co-captain of the women’s national team. “The domino effect that we helped launch – I think we’re really proud of it.”

For American football, the settlement is a costly end to a conflict that has damaged its reputation, It hurt her relationships with her sponsors And it caused strains in her relationship with some of her most famous stars, including Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, who retired last year. American football was not obligated to settle with the women’s team; Was a federal judge in 2020 Reject the arguments of equal pay playersstripping them of nearly all of their legal sway, and the appeal of players was not certain to succeed.

However, for this reason, the settlement represents an unexpected victory for the players: after nearly two years of losing in court in one devastating ruling, they managed to wrest not only an eight-figure settlement, but also a commitment from the Federation to enact the law itself. Reforms rejected by the judge.

Morgan said in a phone interview, “What we set out to do, is recognize the discrimination from US Soccer, and we received that through late payment in the settlement. We set out to get fair and equal treatment in working conditions, and we did that.” Settlement of working conditions. And we set out to get equal pay going forward for us and the men’s team through American football, and we made it happen.”

Upon completion, the settlement will resolve all remaining claims in Gender discrimination lawsuit The players advanced in 2019. But it came with one crucial condition: that of ratification of a new contract between the NFL and the players’ union for the women’s team. This process may take weeks or even months.

The men’s and women’s teams have already held joint negotiating sessions with US Soccer, but to make the deal work – the federation is seeking a single collective bargaining agreement covering both teams – the men’s players will have to agree to a stake of the millions or surrender to them. of dollars in potential World Cup payments from FIFA, the world’s soccer governing body. These payments, set by FIFA and significantly larger for the men’s World Cup than the corresponding women’s tournament, are at the heart of the equal pay gap.

Kun, a former member of the women’s team, said in September that the union will not sign New collective bargaining agreements with either team did not equal World Cup prizes, a position she and the federation reinforced in Tuesday’s deal. The men’s union, whose lawyers were attending some of the women’s negotiation sessions, made no public statements on Tuesday.

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Players Association for the Women’s National Team Congratulations to its members and their attorneys “on their historic success in combating decades of US Soccer discrimination,” but made clear that he plans to take the NFL team – and thus the men’s team – to the previous level. public promises To support equal pay.

“Moving forward and linking this settlement to the peacebuilding agreement is important for both groups,” Kuhn said. “Because we all believe in equal pay, and the only way we can get there – for FIFA to equal the World Cup – is for the men’s team, the women’s team, and American football to come together and come to an agreement on the equation of that ourselves.”

The fight for equal pay began nearly six years ago, when the five-star players were File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission American football is accused of wage discrimination. The players – Morgan, Rapinoe, Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo – said they defaulted on bonuses, appearance fees and even meal money while in training camps, and claimed they earned no more than 40 percent of what players earned in the men’s national team’s wages were paid.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Solo said, though the US Soccer team immediately contested them. Solo said male players “get paid more for appearances than we get paid to win the major tournaments”.

Almost immediately, football fans took sides in the fight, and split American football. The union briefly argued that the men brought in more money and attracted higher TV ratings, and thus deserved higher salaries, but the position was soon abandoned amid public backlash, player anger and a closer reading of the Equal Pay Act. The women took advantage of their popularity and following on social media to strike the union in the court of public opinion.

The deposition as the legal case progressed produced uncomfortable exchanges that seasoned PR players used as a weapon They were selling slogans on T-shirts.

In April 2020, the judge in the gender discrimination case, R. Klausner dismissed the argument that they were systematically underpaid, and ruled that American football had substantiated its claim that Women’s team He actually earned more “on a cumulative and average per game basis” than the men’s team during the years covered by the lawsuit.

The players vowed to resume their defeat, but everyone seemed to be a loser. A deal about working conditions in December A compromise was still possible, and paved the way for the attractiveness of the players going forward. But behind the scenes, the two sides were already making progress toward a settlement.

With Kuhn working with women’s team leaders like Sauerbronn, president of the Players and Players Association — “we had a lot of really constructive conversations back and forth,” Kuhn said — the union leaders and players came to an agreement that everyone could support.

In television appearances and interviews, both parties hailed it as a “huge win” and a “huge step forward”. A joint press conference is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

But not all the players planned to be there to celebrate. World Cup veteran Crystal Dunn had to object. A negotiation session on the new collective bargaining agreement was scheduled at the same time as the press conference, and someone had to be present to represent the team for the next phase of their fight.