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Judge: U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Players Can't Strike

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 06, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge has barred members of the U.S. women's national soccer team from striking or being locked out in the lead-up to this summer's Olympics. Women's team members have been clashing with the U.S. Soccer Federation over fair wages and an expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

In finding that certain clauses of that CBA were still in effect, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the U.S. District Court in Illinois "barred the players from authorizing, encouraging, or engaging in any strike, work stoppage, slowdown or other concerted interference with the activities of the Federation." Here's a look at the full opinion and order.

Bad Soccer Blood

First, it was U.S. Soccer suing the USWNT Players Association in an effort to enforce the CBA that expired in 2012. While negotiating a new deal, the two sides had agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the meantime, but the players were saying they would no longer be bound by either the MOU or old CBA come February 2016.

Then it was U.S. players filing a wage discrimination lawsuit against the soccer federation, claiming they were paid a tenth of what their male counterparts were earning, despite winning more trophies and bringing in more revenue. Between this beef and the apparent lack of a labor contract, some stars were claiming a strike was on the table.

Strike Out

In suing to enforce the old CBA, U.S. Soccer was claiming that the MOU incorporated certain clauses from the CBA, most importantly a "no strike, no lockout" clause, which "barred the Players Association from authorizing, encouraging, or engaging in any strike, work stoppage, slowdown or other concerted interference with the activities of the Federation during the term of the agreement and barred the USSF from engaging in a lockout during the term of the agreement."

The court reasoned that, because the parties appeared to agree that the terms of 2005 CBA would remain intact unless they were explicitly modified by the MOU and because the MOU did not explicitly state that it was a complete contract replacing the CBA nor did it address the "no strike, no lockout clause," that part of the CBA remained in force.

While this ruling doesn't end the battle between the national federation and its most successful players, it doesn't limit the players' options when it comes to bargaining for a new contract. You can read the full opinion below:

United States Soccer Federation v. United States Women's National Soccer Team Players Association by FindLaw

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