WNBA players are finally going to be paid respectably

The WNBA and its union announced a tentative eight-year labor deal Tuesday that will allow top players to earn more than $500,000 while the average annual compensation will surpass six figures for the first time. The contract, which begins this season and runs through 2027, will pay players an average of $130,000 and guarantees full salaries while on maternity leave.

The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) also includes other cash compensation increases, changes to free agency, travel improvements, additional motherhood and family-planning benefits, enhanced marketing and career-development opportunities, and changes to revenue-sharing potential.

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

Terri Jackson, executive director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, said having the eight-year deal again gave the players the sense of a strong long-term commitment from the league.

“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. There are things we asked of the league, and things they asked of the players. And we got there.”