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WNBA championship series between the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

WNBA players are finally getting their just dues after reaching a historic deal with the CBA.

According to ESPN, the WNBA and their respective players’ union have reached terms on a new collective bargaining agreement which will increase their annual base salaries to over six figures, a 53 percent increase from their current salary. In addition to the salary increase, the league’s top players will also be able to earn cash compensation and earlier access to free agency.

“We believe it’s a groundbreaking and historic deal,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told ESPN in an exclusive statement. “I’m proud of the players; they bargained hard, they unified, they brought attention to so many important topics.”

The eight year agreement, from the 2020 through 2027 seasons,  also includes a mutual opt-out provision after six years. Those were the same terms as for the previous agreement in 2014, which allowed the players to vote in 2018 and opt out after the 2019 season and led to the current change.

While it is still well below the margins of their male counterparts in the NBA, it marks a significant moment fueled by league members who have collectively and separately spoken out about the need for improvement regarding incentives and pay.

The new agreement will also include new incentives based in healthcare, travel and career advancement and includes a provision for players who become pregnant during the season to receive their full salary during maternity leave. In addition, players will receive an annual child care stipend of $5,000 along with a two-bedroom apartment if needed; and 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.

“I do understand the value of franchise players,” WNBPA executive committee president Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks told the sports publication. “We see the power that’s held by our brethren in the NBA, in terms of players having almost complete control of their movement. But we get that the WNBA is the WNBA. So for us to have some of both sides of that, it’s going to be helpful from all perspectives.”

In addition to the monetary amendments, WNBA players are also slated to receive better travel arrangements for away games. The “quality of life “amendment guarantees that players will now fly premium economy class status during the regular season and allows each player will get a hotel room, rather than sharing rooms as previously directed.

“Getting the travel improved, getting the improvements for mothers, getting to where we can say a top player in this league could have her salary nearly double — I think those are really good things,” Jackson said. “I feel we’ll see the players be more visible year-round.“

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