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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Soccer Labor Dispute

In United States Soccer Federation v. United States National Soccer Team Players Ass'n (ND Ill.), a 22-page opinion, Judge Kanne writes:

Soccer is called “the beautiful game,” but the collective-bargaining process behind the sport can be ugly. This case matches Plaintiff United States Soccer Federation, Inc. (“US Soccer Federation”), the national governing body for soccer in the United States, against Defendant United States National Soccer Team Players Association (“Players Association”), the labor union for members of the Men’s National Team, in a dispute over their current collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) and uniform player agreement (“UPA” and collectively with CBA, “CBA/UPA”).

The present case kicked off in 2013, when the Players Association disapproved the US Soccer Federation’s proposed tequila poster advertisement, which contained player images. Counterattacking, the US Soccer Federation issued a notice, declaring that the CBA/UPA does not require Players Association approval for use of player likenesses for six or more players in print creative advertisements by sponsors, based on the express terms of the agreement. Crying foul, the Players Association filed a grievance and demanded arbitration, arguing that the CBA/UPA does require this, based on the past practice of the parties.

The arbitrator issued an award in favor of the Players Association. The district court confirmed the arbitrator’s award and granted summary judgment for the Players Association. The US Soccer Federation appealed. We reverse. * * *

In conclusion, we recognize that a goal of arbitration is to provide the parties with “swift, inexpensive and final decisions,” but “this does not vitiate judicial review of an arbitrator’s decision.” Anheuser-Busch, 280 F.3d at 1144. Here, just as the parties agreed to arbitration, they also agreed “to limit the arbitrator’s authority and preserve[] their right to challenge decisions when the arbitrator had reached out and rendered a decision that stray[ed] beyond his delegated authority and is barred by the negotiated contract.” Id.

III. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is REVERSED. This case is REMANDED with instructions to VACATE the award of the arbitrator and enter judgment in favor of the US Soccer Federation.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 22, 2016 04:45 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions