USWNT players union lawyer takes aim at U.S. Soccer over lawsuit
The lawyer for the U.S. women's national team's players union has fired back at U.S. Soccer over the lawsuit filed last week regarding the labor dispute between the two parties.
U.S. Soccer is suing the players union over an argument regarding the validity of the current terms of the most recent CBA. U.S. Soccer and the women's players union have been operating without a CBA since the end of 2012 but signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013 to continue under the pre-existing terms. The dispute rests in when the MOU expires and what it specifically covers. U.S. Soccer alleges that it lasts through 2016 and that the players have threatened to strike, thus the filing of the court motion to prevent them from taking that action. The union argues it has not threatened to strike but is clear that it wants a new CBA that is more advantageous to the players and their concerns.
In asking a Chicago federal court to deny U.S. Soccer's motion to expedite the case, high-profile attorney Jeffrey Kessler claims that U.S. Soccer has been aware of the disputed CBA and "sat on its hands for seven months" and that "the facts asserted in the motion are nowhere near accurate and are hotly disputed" in documents filed and obtained by SI.com on Monday.
"Perhaps most disturbing, in an effort to support its request for an expedited motion schedule, USSF’s motion is filled with blatant inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and misleadingly incomplete quotations from the relevant record," Kessler writes. "Most obviously, USSF claims there is no question that a CBA is in place, but its own 2015 financial statements state the exact opposite: “The Women’s National Team CBA expired on December 31, 2012. There is currently a signed Memo of Understanding in place while the full details of the new Women’s National Team CBA are being negotiated.” ... This by itself eviscerates USSF’s demand for an expedited summary judgment schedule, since it is clear that its claims of clarity are pure fiction.
"USSF also claims that the Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) in place expressly incorporates the CBA, when in fact, even a cursory reading of the MOU shows that it makes absolutely no reference to incorporating the CBA. ... And, USSF has misstated or omitted statements by the WNTPA’s then-Executive Director, John Langel, and his colleague Ruth Uselton, regarding whether all provisions of the prior CBA were agreed to be incorporated into the MOU, or instead were still in the process of negotiation. USSF cannot avail itself of the Court’s protections while simultaneously engaging in procedural gamesmanship and using such tactics."
Kessler also argues that since the MOU does not contain a no-strike provision that the federation suing to block a potential work stoppage–which the players say they are not currently threatening–would be fruitless.
"This argument is critical since ... the MOU does not contain a no-strike/no-lockout provision; so, unless such a provision is somehow incorporated into the MOU (it is not), USSF would have no basis to challenge any work stoppage by the players even if the term of the MOU extended through December 31, 2016 (it does not, and the WNTPA has not threatened to, nor made any decision to impose a work stoppage)," Kessler writes.