The WNBA Players Association announced on Thursday that the group is opting out of its current collective bargaining agreement with the league.
After holding conference calls and two in-person meetings to discuss the possibility of opting out, the union informed the league of its decision to end the agreement, a move that is allowed due to a clause in the current CBA.
"We were informed today that the Women's National Basketball Players Association has opted out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement following the 2019 season," NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement. "The league and its teams are committed to an open and good-faith negotiation that is rooted in the financial realities of our business. We are getting to work immediately and are confident such a process can lead to a fair deal for all involved."
The current CBA was signed in March 2014 and was set to run through the 2021 season. It will now expire on Oct. 31, 2019, or the day following the final playoff game of the 2019 season, whichever comes second. The 2019 season will not be affected.
In an article for The Player's Tribune, WNBPA president and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike said that opting out "means not just believing in ourselves, but going one step further: betting on ourselves. It means being a group of empowered women, in the year 2018, not just feeling fed up with the status quo, but going one step further: rejecting the status quo. And it means taking a stand, not just for the greatest women’s basketball players of today, but going one step further: taking a stand for the greatest women’s basketball players of tomorrow."
"I don’t want the best and the brightest female athletes in the world dreaming about playing in the NBA," Ogwumike added. "I don’t want the best and the brightest young girls growing up thinking that men are the pinnacle. I want those girls dreaming about growing up into the best women they can be. And I want them to dream 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 union's decision to opt out means a new CBA will need to be agreed upon before the 2020 season.