U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Will Sit out World Championships in Pay Protest
NEW YORK — The U.S. women’s hockey team is skipping a big tournament in its own backyard to make a point about fair pay.
The women say they will sit out the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship, which starts later this month in Michigan, unless they can make progress in negotiations with USA Hockey, the sport’s governing body in the United States.
The American women are the reigning tournament champions.
They say they’ve been trying to get fair wages for more than a year. They also want the same treatment as the men’s team when it comes to equipment, staff, per diems, publicity and travel.
“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought,” captain Meghan Duggan said in a statement. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”
USA Hockey issued a statement Wednesday saying that it would be providing “stipends and incentives for medals that could result in each player receiving nearly $85,000 in cash.”
The women’s team responded by saying the claim was misleading and that “no such offer was ever extended.”
It’s not the first time a U.S. women’s team has raised the issue of unequal treatment.
Last year, the national women’s soccer team filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying its members are paid less than men. The commission has yet to rule.
Alex Morgan, one of the stars of the women’s soccer team and an outspoken advocate for equal pay in that sport, tweeted her support to the hockey players.
The team says USA Hockey pays the women $1,000 a month during the six months before the Winter Olympics and virtually nothing for the next three and a half years.
The women do get some money from the U.S. Olympic Committee during that period. But about half the women have one or two other jobs, and many depend on their families for financial support, the team says.
The USOC didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The world hockey games start March 31. The American team has vowed not to show up for training camp, which starts March 21, unless it makes progress in negotiations.
The women’s team also says USA Hockey spends about $3.5 million a year to promote boys’ hockey, without comparable support for girls.
The run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics showed the inequality, the women say: Only the men’s team was invited to the unveiling of the jerseys for both teams. And the inside, which was supposed to list all the years the U.S. won gold, left out the women’s title in 1998.