USWNT players reach ‘long overdue’ equal working conditions agreement

The US women’s national team players have reached an agreement with the US Soccer Federation (USSF) over equal working conditions with the men’s team. 

The World Cup winners were seeking the same conditions as the men in areas including travel, hotel accommodation, staff support and the right to play on grass rather than artificial surfaces.  

Following the agreement, the USWNT will press on with their appeal over equal pay that was thrown out by the courts earlier this year. 

“We are pleased that the USWNT players have fought for and achieved long overdue equal working conditions,” players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson said. “We now intend to file our appeal to the court’s decision, which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.

“We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve. Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

The USWNT players sued the USSF in March 2019 claiming they have not been paid equitably under their collective bargaining agreement that runs through Dec 2021, compared to what the men’s team receives under its agreement that expired in Dec 2018. The women asked for more than $66 million (£49.4m) in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

US District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the pay claim in May, ruling the women rejected a pay-to-play structure similar to the one in the men’s agreement and accepted greater base salaries and benefits than the men, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“Coming to agreement on the working conditions was just the first step,” Parlow Cone, a former player who became the first female USSF president in March. said. “The goal for both sides in this was to really define a more structured way to provide both teams, the men and the women, with equitable support, also allowing for flexibility at the same time.”

The federation has argued that it cannot pay the women World Cup bonuses matching those of the men because of vastly dissimilar bonus payments for men’s and women’s tournaments paid to federations by Fifa.

“Our aim is to find the resolution with our women’s national team and we’re committed to doing that. We’ve reached out to them. We’ve offered them the same contract as the men for all games that are controlled by US Soccer,” Parlow Cone added.

“But unfortunately, the response has been that they didn’t want to negotiate with US Soccer unless US Soccer was willing to make up the Fifa World Cup prize money, which you all know is the vast majority of the $66 million that they’re requesting in back pay.

“And we all know this just isn’t possible from US Soccer’s standpoint to make that up. Even pre-Covid, this would be devastating to our budget and to our programing. But given Covid, not to be overly dramatic, but it would likely bankrupt the federation.”

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