The collective bargaining agreement that was announced recently by the WNBA and its union – the WNBPA – was agreed to in principle when commissioner Cathy Engelbert and union president Nneka Ogwumike appeared on Good Morning America to announce that the league had indeed “Bet on Women.”
Now, both sides have officially signed on to the terms, making the eight-year CBA official and ensuring labor peace in the W through 2027.
The full text of the agreement can be read here. It is 350 pages – so it is a lot to peer over…
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 24, 2020
To recap: Ogwumike dropped news shortly after the big news that there was 90% player participation in the process and that it was approved by a wide margin.
A press release stated all players will have the chance to earn six-figure compensation with top players earning around $500,000. Other main players will have the opportunity to garner between $200,000 to $300,000.
Salaries will average around $130,000 for the first time in the 24-year history of the WNBA.
The WNBA also announced the new WNBA Changemakers program that blends in league sponsors in financial effort to shine a greater spotlight on women’s sports. Engelbert announced that the three initial Changemakers were AT&T, Nike (both of whom were already WNBA sponsors) and Deloitte. Engelbert was formerly CEO at Deloitte before succeeding Lisa Borders as the WNBA’s main boss.
The increased salaries could give a greater incentive for players to prioritize the WNBA as opposed to overseas commitments, but it also came with a “prioritization” catch that players now had to be on time to report to training camp. That detail reflects what was touted as the new prioritization of the WNBA.
Reminder: looks like some great progress made. But both sides have incentive to only point out the positives.
Looking forward to reading full CBA pic.twitter.com/wtU5Uk3G0Z
— Kelsey Trainor (@ktrain_11) January 14, 2020
Four years into the CBA, players will be suspended from teams for reporting late with exceptions.
Heh. Clause in new #WNBACBA says if player misses part of training camp their team can require them to make ‘Additional Unpaid Team Promotional Appearances’ to make up for it.
“Now Brittney, you know you stayed in Russia too long. Put on the Scorch outfit and suck it up.” #wnba
— Richard Cohen (@RichardCohen1) January 24, 2020
The signing of the CBA meant that the start of free agency was pushed back by a few days. Teams can begin negotiations with players such as Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jonquel Jones, Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart, Angel McCoughtry, Liz Cambage and others on Jan. 28 and deals can be signed beginning on Feb. 10.
The new CBA came with a 30% increase to the salary cap and highest max player salaries being increased from $117,000 to $215,000. Players will also receive full salaries while on maternity leave plus an annual $5,000 childcare stipend as well as family planning benefits up to $60,000.
Players can sign max contracts after five years in the league starting in 2021.
Ogwumike, Terri Jackson and the union also got better travel and employment accommodations as well. Each player will get individual hotel rooms, flights must include mandatory legroom and players will also receive job opportunities in the offseason through the WNBA and its partners (such as the NBA) as an alternative to playing basketball overseas.
It also addressed mental health, nutrition and domestic violence.
One of the new deal’s elements will actually take place during seasons – the Commissioner’s Cup in addition to adding two more games to the 34-game schedule which became 36. Engelbert mentioned during a conference call after the announcement of the CBA that this was an idea that came directly from the players themselves.
The minimum amount of prize money that is allotted for the Commissioner’s Cup – $750,000.
The deal also came with a 50-50 revenue sharing model (on incremental revenue) based on the league reaching television sponsorship goals, according to the WNBA’s website. Increased financial incentives for on-court awards such as Rookie of the Year and WNBA MVP are also included.
Marketing has been one of the many areas of the league that players have talked about as a weak spot and wanted to address. The new CBA creates a floor of $1.6 million in offseason marketing that the league says would establish up to $300,000 in yearly cash compensation for select players.
The CBA also aims to create more diversity in the WNBA’s coaching ranks – a topic that has received increased attention after the hiring of Walt Hopkins as the New York Liberty’s head coach – and the reality that eight of the WNBA’s 12 head coaches are men with only two being African-American men.
The exceptions to that rule are Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx), Marianne Stanley (Indiana Fever), Sandy Brondello (Phoenix Mercury) and Nicki Collen (Atlanta Dream).