A First Time For Everything: NWSL’s Historic Collective Bargaining Agreement
On January 31, 2022, The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player Association and the NWSL’s league representatives ratified the first Collective Bargaining Agreement in the NWSL’s history. The NWSL’s president, Tori Huster, commented on the CBA, stating, “Our mission in this historic CBA was to put this same philosophy at the center of NWSL’s future. With the amount of care and attention that we have given this process since Fall 2020, we are proud that players can confidently enter the tenth season of the NWSL in a better position than ever before.” The Player’s Association was also excited for the potential of the CBA to protect players beyond just the scope of the individual team’s rules and guidelines. Some terms of the CBA are outlined below.
The NWSL’s CBA provided that all teams must provide the services of, at minimum, a team physician, massage therapist, sports psychologist, sports scientist, and team clinician to provide mental health services. Player safety was a focus of the CBA, with the focus on improved workers’ compensation for the women athletes. Further, the CBA added layers of protection such as six months of paid mental health leave. To support the women athletes in an amplified manner, the CBA stipulated for eight weeks paid parental leave, private nursing facilities for parents, and professional minimum staffing standards for healthcare professionals. Finally, the league agreed to protect players by ensuring a fix season with start and end windows, with a built-in guaranteed forty-two days of vacation, and a seven-day summer break during the season.
Further, the CBA took a massive step regarding pay for the women athletes. The CBA requires compensation of a minimum salary of $35,000, with four percent yearly increases. This salary is a 160 percent increase from the previous minimum salary within the league. The CBA also includes a step ladder increase in 2022, with a purpose to protect players above the minimum in 2021 401k plan with matching contributions from the NWSL commencing in 2023. Beginning in 2023, there will be minimum standards for housing stipends. The NWSL also states that there will be improved group licenses provisions, with commitment by the league for $255,000-$300,000 per year for group licensing rights.
This CBA took much negotiation by the NWSL’s Player Association, with more than thirty players involved in the negotiating process. The NWSL’s Player Association released a statement regarding the CBA, stating they are “grateful to our brothers and sisters in the labor movement who paved the way for us to get here, and to our fans and partners for their unwavering support. We want to especially thank our legal team of Deb Willig, Jessica Caggiano, and Larry Goodman of Willig, Williams & Davidson. There is no one else we would have wanted to spend more than 400 hours on a Zoom with. To the players who came before us: We stand on your shoulders. We hope we made you proud.”
Since the NWSL just began pre-season, time will tell to see how effectively the CBA serves the players. In the meantime, NWSL supporters everywhere are proud to see the steps taken by the NWSL’s Players Association to amplify the rights of our professional soccer players.
Ashlyn can be found on Twitter @Ashlyn_Stone2.