The WNBA Players Association has informed the league that it will opt out of its current collective bargaining agreement, as allowed per a provision.
The CBA was signed in March 2014 and ran through the 2021 season. The opt-out will not affect the 2019 season, but it means the union and the league will need to negotiate a new CBA before the 2020 season, which is also an Olympic year.
The players, many of whom are with their overseas teams, cast their ballots through an online voting process that was open from Oct. 14 to 21. A CBA committee made up of WNBA players studied whether opting out was the best option, taking part in conference calls and two in-person meetings.
“We look forward to our upcoming discussions and negotiating a new agreement with the league,” the union said in a statement.
WNBA executive council president Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune explaining the players’ position. She wrote, in part, that she wants young female athletes to grow up dreaming about “the league that I know ours can become. A league that has a fair and consistent work environment. A league that treats its players as the world-class athletes they are. A league that invests in its future. A league that believes in us as much as we believe in it.”
“The league and its teams are committed to an open and good-faith negotiation that is rooted in the financial realities of our business,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement. “We are getting to work immediately and are confident such a process can lead to a fair deal for all involved.”
“I’ve gotten an opportunity to talk to [Ogwumike] a number of times, and she is not only an amazing player, she’s amazing at what she’s doing for the WNBA players,” said National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul. “I think them continuing to fight for themselves and use their voice is great, because I’m a big fan of the WNBA.”
Information from ESPN’s Ian Begley was included in this report.