The WNBA and their respective players’ union have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement which will increase their annual base salaries to over six figures, marking a raise of 53 percent from current numbers. 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 said in a statement obtained by ESPN. “I’m proud of the players; they bargained hard, they unified, they brought attention to so many important topics.”
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.
Players who become pregnant in the league will receive their full salary while on maternity leave and those who are mothers will receive an annual child care stipend of $5,000 along with a two-bedroom apartment if needed. 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.
Skylar Diggins-Smith recently broke her silence regarding the intense conditions her body was under and lack of support she received after she played the entire 2018 season while she was pregnant with her son.
“I played the ENTIRE season pregnant last year! All star, and led league (top 3-5) in MPG…didn’t tell a soul,” she wrote on Twitter in 2019.
People called me a quitter, said I gave up on my team, etc., etc.
Not knowing I took two FULL months away from everything because of postpartum depression. With limited resources to help me be successful mentally/physically.
But just wait though….KEEP THAT SAME ENERGY.
— Skylar Diggins-Smith (@SkyDigg4) October 19, 2019
Players will also have access to more accommodating flights, and will receive premium economy class status for any flights booked for regular season air travel.
Members will also be offered career advancement training to foster growth in any direction they plan to take in the off-season or after their careers come to an end, as well as coaching initiatives for players who want to remain in the game of basketball.
A new day has finally come for WNBA league members!