With the 2016 Olympics just within reach, we can all rest assured knowing that by law, the U.S. Women’s National Team (“USWNT”) cannot strike and will be participating in the 2016 Olympics.
A recent decision by Judge Coleman held that, the player’s union had given General Counsel John B. Langel authority to integrate the terms of the expired 2005 collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) into a 2013 memorandum that extended the terms of the CBA until the end of 2016. The memo incorporates unmodified terms of the 2005 CBA, including the no-strike, no lockout provision, and that Langel had apparent authority to execute the memorandum. Since a majority of the players signed off on that memorandum, the current CBA is still intact.
The players were looking to have the option to strike or threaten a strike in hopes of better playing conditions. Player’s counsel had argued that the contract expired in February and that the players intended to terminate the memorandum. They also made arguments that a no-strike provision was not explicitly spelled out in the memorandum. However, Judge Coleman ruled that a CBA may be partly or wholly oral, and a written CBA can be modified orally. Therefore, there is no need for the memo to explicitly state a no-strike provision. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).
This case is separate from a federal complaint filed by several high-profile players against U.S. Soccer in March, when they accused the federation of wage bias. The outcome of this case is completely unrelated, and does not effect the outcome of the wage bias case. While this is somewhat of a loss for USWNT, it is most certainly a win for fans.