Last month, the WNBA’s Players Union and the league settled a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will begin with the 2020 season and run through 2027. The biggest issue with the old agreement was that players earned less than 25 percent Basketball Related Income (BRI)
Under the new agreement, players will receive a 53 percent increase in total cash compensation, consisting of base salary, additional performance bonuses, prize pools for newly created in-season competitions, and league and team marketing deals. This means, the W’s top athletes will be able to earn cash compensation exceeding $500,000, with the maximum salary a player can earn increasing nearly $100,000.
But most importantly, if the league achieves revenue growth targets, players can earn 50 percent BRI starting with the 2021 season. The State of the WNBA, Part 2
Another issue with the former CBA was quality of travel. Players were required to fly coach and share rooms during road games. Now all players are guaranteed premium economy class air travel and individual hotel room accommodations.
The previous CBA put allowance caps on off-season earnings when players worked for the same corporate body that owned their W club. While it’s not clear if the new agreement excludes earning caps, the league will work with affiliated organizations, teams, and sponsors to provide off-season job opportunities to prepare players for post-playing careers.
Perhaps the most important benefits W players will enjoy are those related to their health and overall well-being. Expectant and new mothers will receive their full salaries while on maternity leave, which is a marked improvement to the 50 percent they were entitled to under the old agreement. They will also receive an annual childcare stipend; and progressive family planning benefits for adoption, surrogacy, and fertility treatment. The agreement also includes enhanced mental health benefits and resources.
These new terms will likely increase players’ competitive edge and commitment to the league. And if the W meets, or exceeds, revenue growth targets in the next several years, we’ll likely see a spike in the intensity of women’s college basketball, as well, since more of those athletes will be shooting for the chance to make it to the W, instead of immediately seeking post-graduate careers. The State of the WNBA, Part 1
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the elements of the W’s new CBA, nor are these terms the end-all-be-all for improving the conditions for players in the league, but this is a solid foundation to building an fair system for current and future players.
*W denotes WNBA