The WNBA and its players association reached a deal on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will include a 53% increase in cash compensation — increasing the salaries of the league’s highest-paid players.
Under the old agreement, the most a WNBA player could make was $113,500. But now, players who sign a max contract will be eligible in excess of $500,000 per year.
The average cash compensation under the new agreement will be $130,000, the first time that number has reached six figures. The league defines cash compensation as salary, bonuses, marketing deals and prize pools related to “newly created” in-season competitions.
The league announced the eight-year deal, which runs until 2027, on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
“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,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
Players will have paid maternity leave for the first time. The issue of travel has been a sticking point for the players in recent years; now, premium economy class is guaranteed for all players during the regular season, and players will not have to share hotel rooms on the road.
“I really have to credit our staff, of course the WNBA, but especially the constituency of the players in the WNBA,” WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike said on “Good Morning America.” “We wanted to leave a legacy. I think we came in understanding that it wasn’t just about the top player, it wasn’t just about the rookies. It was about every player across the board, and we are really happy to come together with the WNBA with actually a lot of innovative ideas.”
BREAKING: @CathyEngelbert from the @WNBA announces a new landmark deal for female athletes. “We’re hoping to lift, not just women in sports and women in basketball, but women in society.”@RobinRoberts@Nnemkadi30https://t.co/n0zPNGp6Szpic.twitter.com/V6eBw2wH3S— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 14, 2020
Landmark day in the WNBA: New collective bargaining agreement that has raised average salaries to six figures for first time ($130,000, up to $500,000 for top players), improved travel and marketing opportunities, and fully paid salary on maternity leave among other changes.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 14, 2020
The eight-year CBA has a mutual opt-out option after the sixth season, as the previous agreement had. The players voted to opt out of the previous deal after 2018.
Tuesday’s announcement appears to be a significant change to the league after players had called for better pay and working conditions. In recent years, many top players have spent the WNBA “offseason” playing professionally in Europe to earn more money.
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