June 17, 2020 

WNBA and WNBA Players Association earn Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award

The league and players association were honored for their work in negotiating the most recent collective bargaining agreement, a landmark deal for female athletes.

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Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (30) during the WNBA Semi-Finals between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on September 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The WNBA and the WNBA Players Association will be awarded the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE award, as part of the 2020 Sports Humanitarian Awards, for their work in negotiating the newest collective bargaining agreement. The eight-year deal which runs through the 2027 season, was hailed as a landmark agreement in women’s sports.

Some of the groundbreaking provisions that are in the current CBA include increasing the salary for the league’s top players by $100,000 to $215,000 per year. It also increased the minimum salaries for inexperienced players as well.

Additionally, the new agreement — which was ratified in January — offers comprehensive family planning support, which includes fully paid maternity leave for players, reimbursement for fertility and adoption fees, a $5,000 childcare stipend, two bedroom apartments for players with children and appropriate mental health services.

Another notable component of the deal was the changes to travel accommodations, which had previously been a sore spot for teams. Under the new CBA, teams will continue fly commercial, but have their seats upgraded from coach to economy-plus or comfort-plus, and players will now have their own individual hotel rooms on the road, as SBNation’s Matt Ellentuck pointed out.

“We approached these negotiations with a player-first agenda, and I am pleased that this agreement guarantees substantial increases in compensation and progressive benefits for the women of the WNBA,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said at the time. “We look forward to working together to make the WNBA a sustainable and thriving business for generations of women’s basketball players to come.”

In negotiations, Engelbert worked directly with WNBPA Executive Director Terri Jackson, WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike and the WNBPA Executive Committee, which includes Layshia Clarendon, Chiney Ogwumike, Sue Bird, Elena Delle Donne and Elizabeth Williams. In the CBA press release, Nneka Owgumike praised the deal and said that Engelbert’s experience as a business professional proved particularly helpful.

“We found common ground in areas that confirmed the league’s and the players’ intentions to not only make meaningful improvements in working conditions and overall professional experience, but also to improve the business with strategic planning and intentional marketing that will keep the WNBA front and center year-round,” the WNBPA President, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks, said at the time.

The Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award will be presented at this year’s ESPYS on June 21 at 9 p.m. ET.

Written by Bela Kirpalani

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