After months of negotiating, and nearly two weeks of striking, it appears that the American women’s hockey team succeeded in achieving full and equal wages, an endeavor that garnered support from other athletes and even Congressmen. This started nearly 14 months ago, when the female hockey players began talking with USA Hockey about a possible increasing in earnings and benefit.
Conflict steadily increased throughout the past month, beginning on March 15, when the members of Team USA, including Meghan Duggan and Jocelyne Lamoreaux-Davidson – cornerstones of the team who have played for years – decided to boycott the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. This created issues for USA Hockey, as the championship starts March 31 and takes place in Michigan; had the players continued to boycott, it would have shone a bad – or worse – light on the organization.
U.S.A. Hockey had been paying the women a fraction of what the men had been receiving, with barely any benefits. Originally, they refuted this, saying that the women were capable of obtaining a maximum of $85,000, a large amount of which would come from incentives. This was a statement that Lamoreaux-Davidson would later refer to as misleading “because $37,500 of the $85,000 would be earned only if the team won a gold medal, and $24,000 of that figure comes from [United States Olympic Committee], not U.S.A. Hockey,” said Seth Berkman of the New York Times.
Things looked bleak for the strikers when USA Hockey began to turn towards high school, collegiate, and minor league female players in order to replace them. Ahiza Garcia of CNN said, “On Saturday, two high schoolers, Cayla Barnes and Natalie Snodgrass, tweeted that they’d been approached by USA Hockey and turned down spots on the replacement team.”
However, the women were finally able to achieve full wages on Monday, after hours of discussion. This new deal, which lasts for four years between the team and the USA Hockey organization, gives the players a monthly salary of $2,000, and includes significant improvements in the quality of their treatment.
Garcia, in a different article, said, “USA Hockey paid for the disability insurance of players on the men’s team but not for players on the women’s team.” This does not even include the fact that, prior to this new agreement, while the men sat in business class and had the opportunity to bring a guest, which the organization paid for, the women sat in coach and had to share rooms with teammates rather than guests. In addition, the female players also experienced slower and less efficient medical treatment and examination.
According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, “This season, the women’s national team could collectively earn anywhere from $850,000-$950,000 depending on their performance the rest of the year, including at the upcoming World Championship in Plymouth, Mich., and $950,000-$1 million in the years that follow.”
While this has been a huge step for the female Team USA – and gender equality in general – there are still some social miscues. For example, the University of North Dakota, a school renowned for its hockey teams (both male and female), which produced Lamoreaux-Davidson and her sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, just announced that it will end its women’s team (during recruiting no less). A move that has irritated numerous members of Team U.S.A., including the Lamoreaux sisters, it makes their hunt for equality even more special.
The efforts of the team members (which earned support from Congress) have shown extreme courage and promise, but there is more work to be done.
The IIHF Women’s World Championship begins on March 31, with Team USA playing Team Canada at 7:30 P.M.