The WNBA announced on Tuesday that it had come to terms with the league’s players association on a tentative deal regarding an eight-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. The news was revealed on the league’s website, and in a pair of statements, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike expressed their gratitude for one another over the news.
“We approached these negotiations with a player-first agenda, and I am pleased that this agreement guarantees substantial increases in compensation and progressive benefits for the women of the WNBA,” Engelbert said. “I want to thank the players, led by WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike and the WNBPA Executive Committee, as well as WNBPA Executive Director Terri Jackson, for their hard work, innovative thinking and professionalism throughout the process. I also want to thank the league’s Labor Relations Committee and Board of Governors for their investment, commitment and leadership as we look forward to working together to make the WNBA a sustainable and thriving business for generations of women’s basketball players to come.”
“Cathy Engelbert, the first WNBA Commissioner, brought her perspective as a former women’s basketball student-athlete, her experience as a business professional and her passion for the game to these negotiations,” Ogwumike said. “We found common ground in areas that confirmed the league’s and the players’ intentions to not only make meaningful improvements in working conditions and overall professional experience, but also to improve the business with strategic planning and intentional marketing that will keep the WNBA front and center year-round.”
The agreement features a number of major adjustments to things like player compensation, travel, and family planning. The amount of cash players will earn will increase thanks to the new deal, which will run from 2020 to 2027. Top players will earn in excess of $500,000, other standout players will receive between $200,000 and $300,000, and the average salary will hit six figures, approximately $130,000, for the first time in league history.
Beyond the boost to salaries, the two sides came to terms on a number of matters that impact the lives of players on and off the floor. There are a ton of other compensation measures, including revamped free agency that becomes “available to players one year earlier than under the prior agreement beginning with the free agency period leading up to the 2021 season” and 50-50 revenue sharing between players and the league. Players will get things like Comfort/Economy Plus flights as they travel from city to city, individual hotel rooms, childcare stipends, full salaries on maternity leave, enhanced mental health benefits and resources, and job opportunitiess during the offseason that are “designed to prepare players for their post-playing careers and will advance diversity in coaching initiatives for veteran players interested in coaching careers.”
There’s plenty more, and if you’d like to see some of the additional highlights, you can do that here. As Mechelle Voepel of ESPN reports, the CBA isn’t set in stone quite yet, as the league’s Board of Governors still has to ratify it, although the expectation is that will happen.