The WNBA and the players’ union have reached tentative terms on a brand new collective bargaining agreement, which will bring progressive changes to the women’s league.
Included in the agreement is a huge salary boost for the league’s highest-paid players, increasing from an annual base salary of $117,500 to $215,000, ESPN reports.
The new CBA will also encompass additional cash compensation increases, changes to free agency, upgrades in travel, benefits in motherhood and family planning, and overall, will help improve the quality of life for players.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert appeared on Good Morning America to reveal the announcement. “We collaborated and we have what we think is a groundbreaking agreement that’s gonna support these players for the long term and the next generation of players,” she said.
Engelbert was joined by Nneka Ogwumike, who represented the players’ union. “We wanted to leave a legacy,” she said. “I think we came in understanding that it wasn’t just about the top players and the rookies, it’s about every player across the board. … We want to serve as the catalyst for what we want to see in the future of the WNBA.”
The agreement is for eight years, from the 2020 to 2027 seasons, and includes a mutual opt-out provision after six years. Those same terms were part of the 2014 agreement; in 2018, players voted to opt-out after the 2019 season, which made way for the new agreement. This will be the fifth CBA in WNBA history, which is pending ratification by the players and league’s board of governors.
In addition to the high maximum salary, the 2020 salary cap will be $1.3 million, a bump from $996,000 in 2019. There will also be a 53 percent increase in total cash compensation, independent of insurance benefits, housing, per diems, etc. The league’s top players could earn over $500,000 from performance bonuses, marketing deals, and more.
Under the new CBA, changes in free agency will also allow for more possibilities of player movement. As far as travel, premium economy class status is guaranteed for all players during the regular season, and each player will get a hotel room. There will be paid maternity leave, family-planning benefits, an annual child care stipend of $5,000, and an assurance of two-bedroom apartments for players with children. The CBA will also develop pathways to career opportunities for players after their playing careers, have better mental health benefits and resources, and more.
“We’re hoping to uplift not just women in sports, women in basketball, but women in society,” Engelbert told GMA.