It seems like a strange case of biting the hand that feeds you.
U.S. Soccer on Wednesday (Feb. 3) filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. women’s team, in what New York Times reporter Andrew Das called “a sudden escalation of a simmering labor fight over the team’s collective bargaining agreement.”
Das explains the issues better than I can, and you should read his story for a fuller understanding.
In a nutshell, the U.S. federation wants a federal judge to declare that the U.S. women remain bound by a collective bargaining agreement that expired in 2012.
Specifically, according to Das, U.S. Soccer wants to make sure the women continue to honor a no-strike clause in that bargaining agreement, which has been extended — or so the federation maintains — through the end of this year by a “memorandum of understanding” that was signed in 2013.
However, Richard Nichols, who became executive director of the players’ union in 2014, contends that the memorandum of understanding is “invalid as a collective bargaining agreement,” according to Das.
“He said that if a new agreement was not in place in 60 days — by Feb. 24 — the old one would end and the players would no longer be bound by its no-strike clause.”
Nichols told The Times, however, that at no time in negotiations did he raise the specter of a labor action. “There were no threats about strikes or work stoppages,” he said, adding that the players merely “reserved our legal rights.”
I don’t know enough about the facts to say that by suing the team that brought America its first World Cup in 16 years, U.S. Soccer is treating the women shabbily.
I do know that if it is, it wouldn’t be the first time.
As the philosopher Pogo once said: