The WNBA Players Association said Thursday it will opt out of its collective bargaining agreement with the WNBA after the 2019 season.
Writing for The Players’ Tribune, WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike said the players are seeking better pay, improved travel conditions and increased marketing opportunities.
“We believe in women, we believe in the WNBA, we believe in the WNBPA, and we believe that, wherever the finish line is for this movement that we’re a part of ... we’re just not there yet,” she wrote.
“We’re opting out because women’s basketball’s potential is infinite. We’re opting out because there’s still a lot more work to be done. And we’re betting on ourselves to do it.”
Thursday was the opt-out deadline for the current CBA, which was signed in March 2014 and was scheduled to run through the 2021 season.
The opt-out will not affect the 2019 season, but the union and league will have to negotiate a new CBA before the 2020 season.
“We look forward to our upcoming discussions and negotiating a new agreement with the league,” the WNBPA said in a statement.
Mark Tatum, the NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer who is overseeing the WNBA on an interim basis, released a statement after the WNBPA decision was announced.
“The league and its teams are committed to an open and good-faith negotiation that is rooted in the financial realities of our business,” the statement read. “We are getting to work immediately and are confident such a process can lead to a fair deal for all involved.”
Ogwumike, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks, said the WNBPA’s primary objective is full transparency.
“We never get to see the numbers. We don’t know how the league is doing. As the kids say nowadays, we just want to see the receipts,” she wrote.
“We don’t want any handouts. If you believe that we do, then you must have never watched a minute of our league. We just want what we’re worth. We just want what’s right. We just want to leave this game a little better than we found it for the next generation.”
However, Tatum said the WNBPA has seen the figures and is aware that the WNBA has lost money consistently.
“We’ve shared all of that information with the players association and look forward to having that conversation with the executive committee and with the players directly around the realities of the business,” Tatum told ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Thursday.
The picture isn’t pretty, according to Tatum.
“The league has sustained incredible losses from the inception 22 years ago, including a $12 million loss just last season, but those are investments that the NBA is making, and what I would say is that the players association has all of those financials,” Tatum said. “They have access to that. We’ve shared it with them, and what we are looking forward to doing is having a fully open, transparent and engaging discussion around the business realities that exist in the league.”
--Field Level Media