US women's hockey players threaten boycott over wages

Players filed complaint last year with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
By Stephen Whyno/The Canadian Press
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 03/15/2017

(CP) — The U.S. women's hockey team is threatening to boycott the upcoming world championships on home ice over a wage dispute with USA Hockey.

The team announced Wednesday that they will not participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation tournament that begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. Two spokesmen for USA Hockey did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Players say they informed USA Hockey that they would not report to training camp next Wednesday unless meaningful progress is made on fair support and wages. The U.S. is the defending champion after winning the gold medal last year.

"To voluntarily take ourselves out of the running to do that is not easy, but it's what's right and we're asking for what's right and fair," Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said by phone. "It's definitely hard. But as a group we've made this decision and as a team and I'm proud to do this with my teammates and to stand arm in arm with them and to say enough is enough."

The players are seeking a contract with USA Hockey that they say "includes appropriate compensation."

The players have had contracts only in Olympic years and are seeking a deal that covers them in all other years. According to the statement released by a law firm representing players, USA Hockey has paid players $1,000 a month during their six-month Olympic residency period and "virtually nothing" the rest of the time.

Captain Meghan Duggan says players are asking USA Hockey "to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought."

Lamoureux-Davidson said players are hopeful that taking a stand will force the issue.

"We all want to go play," she said. "But it's been 14 months and we haven't seen progress, so if there's progress within the next week and a half, we'll see. But there needs to be significant steps taken and hopefully USA Hockey finds this significant enough to want to start making progress with us."

The wage dispute follows one by U.S. women's soccer players, who last March filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Lamoureux-Davidson said the hockey players have been in touch with soccer players about their fight, which has also been going on for years.

The U.S. team was already in the midst of change after Ken Klee was replaced as coach by Robb Stauber weeks before the start of the tournament.

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