The Women's National Team Players Association has filed a response to USSF's lawsuit over the collective bargaining agreement between the parties.
A quick recap: US Soccer claims that a valid CBA exists between the parties, which includes a no-lockout/no-strike clause. The WNTPA claims that there is only a memorandum of understanding in place which does not extend the CBA and can be declared invalid at will - and that the MOU does not include a no-strike clause. USSF is asking the court to declare a valid CBA in place to, among other things, protect the federation from a strike with several big friendlies and the Olympics coming up.
Today, the WNTPA filed a response to the suit and Stars and Stripes FC has obtained a copy of the court filing. The WNTPA makes the following claims:
1. USSF had plenty of time to respond to the WNTPA.
The WNTPA first notified the federation of their position on the lack of a CBA in July 2015. According to the filing, "USSF knew the dispute at issue here but sat on its rights for months and did nothing." USSF apparently waited seven months to file this complaint, which the PA argues is an undue delay that should not be allowed by the court.
2. The WNT is not going to strike anyway, so USSF is panicking over nothing.
The WNTPA just said that they wanted to reserve the right to strike, but has "never stated any intention to engage in any job action." With the Olympics so far away, the PA asserts that it is too soon for USSF to be worrying over a strike that could affect them by not just embarrassing them, but also bringing down FIFA sanctions should they be forced to withdraw from the Olympics.
3. USSF has misrepresented the case.
They have left out crucial parts of former executive director John Langel's deposition, which was supposed to be private anyway and shouldn't be considered at all by the court. The WNTPA claims that Mr. Langel's omitted testimony shows that the parties agree that "the terms [of the prior CBA] don't control in certain circumstances." This, combined with other language from USSF that acknowledged they had not drafted a new CBA and the lack of provision in the MOU for an actual contract term, proves that there is no existing CBA between the parties.
4. USSF trying to claim there is no dispute over the facts is false.
The WNTPA is very emphatically disputing the fact that a CBA is in place between the two parties.
The WNTPA wants the court to order the parties to keep to the original status conference date of April 4, 2016. With the parties meeting in early April and the court's original hearing on the matter in early June, the WNTPA believes this is plenty of time before the Olympics begin in August. A June hearing would also allow enough time before USSF has to declare the WNT roster for the Olympics and get players accredited.
The WNTPA's claims that they won't strike notwithstanding, that is certainly a useful bit of leverage to hold over their federation while they negotiate a new CBA; you can see why USSF might want to neutralize that prior to any discussion.
Meanwhile, the USWNT is preparing for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in Texas, which shouldn't be impacted by the lawsuit. Their first game kicks off February 10 against Costa Rica.