US Soccer, women’s union set to bargain past deal expiration

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Soccer Federation and the union for its women’s national team are set to negotiate past the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement on Thursday in an effort to reach a deal on equal pay.

The sides announced in December they had agreed to a three-month extension of a labor deal originally set to expire Dec. 31. The terms of the expiring agreement will remain in force under the status quo.

The U.S. men have been playing under terms of an agreement that expired on Dec. 31, 2018.

“Over the past two weeks, U.S. Soccer and representatives from the players’ associations for our U.S. men’s and women’s senior national teams have been in all-day collective bargaining sessions,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement Wednesday.

“These positive, constructive meetings were held in-person in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The discussions, which have included equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money and a first-ever framework for revenue sharing as part of each respective labor agreement, are complex and require significant due diligence from all parties. Nevertheless, we feel we are closer to reaching agreements on these issues than ever before.

“To ensure adequate time to reach a fair and equitable agreement, the parties have mutually agreed to continue negotiations into April, with the goal of reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”

The women’s team players who had sued the federation reached a settlement last month in which the players would split $22 million and the federation would establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women. The settlement, ending a six-year legal battle, is subject to collective bargaining agreements with the unions that separately represent the women and men.

“Recent meetings between the federation and the USWNT players association have been productive, and we look forward to continued negotiations in April with an eye towards reaching agreement as soon as possible,” the women’s union said in a statement.

The men’s union did not respond to a request for comment.

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