The WNBA is poised to make sweeping gains for women and mothers, agreeing to terms in a new collective bargaining agreement that would give basketball players a significant salary bump and expanded maternity benefits.
The league announced the eight-year deal, which runs until 2027, on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.
Under the new deal, the maximum salary will increase from $115,000 to possibly more than $500,000 when base salary, bonuses, and prize pools from in-season competitions are factored in. Other high-performing players have the chance to earn between $200,000 and $300,000, and the average cash compensation across the league will be almost $130,000.
Per an official WNBA release subsequently released, the new CBA will allow for higher player compensation and several other player-friendly benefits.
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The salary increase for the highest-paid WNBA players improves their annual base salaries to $215,000 from $117,500.
The deal also include mental health and domestic violence education and resources and a program to provide off-season job opportunities to prepare players for their post-retirement life. The new contract proposes a 50-50 revenue sharing model by 2021 - if the league reaches revenue growth targets from broadcast agreements, marketing partnerships and licensing deals.
- A new annual childcare stipend of $5,000.
"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", WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike said. Players will receive a full salary while on maternity leave.
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- Two-bedroom apartments for players with children.
"With cautious optimism and trusting the league's renewed commitment and investment, the players demonstrated a willingness to "lean in" themselves and show an even greater commitment and investment in the W", WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson said. Players had spent this past season publicly expressing anger over what was estimated to be a 25 percent share of league revenues. Players in 2018 opted out of the existing CBA to help accelerate talks toward a new deal. WNBA members who want to begin a family by exploring alternative family planning methods will be reimbursed up to $60,000 for fees relating to adoption, surrogacy, freezing eggs for later use or other fertility treatments.
- Unrestricted free agency available to players one year earlier than under the prior agreement beginning with the free agency period leading up to the 2021 season. It has always been a stigma that the men league is more popular than the woman league.
Congratulations to the WNBA on inspiring, being the change, and paving the way for the future of women's basketball and equality in society! "The support from these WNBA Changemakers companies will allow us to provide an enhanced player experience for the awesome professional athletes in the WNBA". Inaugural Changemakers include AT&T, Deloitte and Nike.
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