The new collective bargaining agreement also aims to improve the overall experience of the players in the WNBA and focuses on the core issues that have dominated the conversation in the league over the past few years. The contract includes improved travel standards, improvements in maternity and child care benefits, changes in free agency and a path for a more equitable income distribution.
“We address these negotiations with a first-player agenda, and I am pleased that this agreement guarantees substantial increases in compensation and progressive benefits for WNBA women,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a joint statement with the National Players Association of Women’s Basketball .
If the new collective bargaining agreement is approved by the board of governors of the league and union membership, the contract will begin in May before the 2020 season and will run until 2027.
The new CBA proposes what the league said is a 53 percent increase in total cash compensation, which consists of salary, additional performance bonuses, accumulated prizes for newly created season competitions and league and team marketing agreements . While the maximum compensation for the best players could exceed $ 500,000, other top players have the opportunity to win between $ 200,000 and $ 300,000. The average cash compensation will be almost $ 130,000.
The additional cash compensation also includes a minimum of $ 1.6 million in off-season marketing agreements that would allow up to $ 300,000 in additional cash compensation for selected players.
Today, most league players choose to play abroad during the WNBA offseason in countries like Russia, Australia and South Korea, where their earning potential is higher, to compensate for the lack of wages in the national league. The WNBA lost one of its most important stars all last season when Breanna Stewart of Seattle Storm, the MVP of the 2018 league, suffered a tear of the Achilles tendon while playing in Europe.
“Cathy Engelbert, the first commissioner of the WNBA, brought her perspective as a former female basketball athlete, her experience as a business professional and her passion for the game in these negotiations,” said Nneka Ogwumike, president of the players union, in the joint statement “We found common ground in areas that confirmed the intentions of the league and the players of not only making significant improvements in working conditions and professional experience in general, but also improving the business with strategic planning and intentional marketing that will keep the WNBA at the front and center all year. “
With regard to player experience, the new CBA includes improved travel standards that will include premium economy class status for all players for regular season air travel and individual hotel rooms for each player. Engelbert said the league will provide first-class air travel for the stars during the WNBA All-Star Game. WNBA teams usually fly commercial between games, a cost-saving measure that players say reduces recovery and preparation time and has sometimes led to travel delays.
The best elements of maternity and family planning have a new annual stipend for childcare of $ 5,000, and players on maternity leave will receive a full salary. Family planning benefits offer up to $ 60,000 in reimbursement to veteran players for costs related to adoption, subrogation and fertility treatments, including egg freezing.
Changes in the CBA should also allow more freedom for the movement of players from the free agency period before the 2021 season.
The 2021 season will also provide the opportunity for a new revenue sharing model. The contract proposes a 50-50 division between the players and the WNBA based on the achievement of the revenue growth objectives of the transmission agreements, marketing associations and licensing agreements. The previous revenue sharing provided only a 20 percent option for revenue sharing.