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NWSLPA, NWSL announce historic first CBA ahead of 2022 season

Big, big news.

NJ/NY Gotham City FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The 2022 NWSL preseason can officially get underway as scheduled on Tuesday, because the league and the NWSL Players Association announced on Monday night they have finalized an agreement for a historic first collective bargaining agreement. The deal is for five years, to run through 2026.

There are several notable highlights for the debut CBA, including pay increases across the board and the minimum salary going up to $35,000. Other material benefits, including increased bonuses and severance pay and continued housing and health insurance for 30 days for waived players provides more stability for the player pool.

Perhaps the component that will have the largest ripple effects down the line is the first real free agency system in league history. Starting in 2023, players with at least six years of league service and out of contract will have unrestricted free agency, with that experience level dropping to five years for 2024. Also in 2024, players with three years or more of league experience who are out of contract will be entitled to restricted free agency, likely meaning their current club can make a qualifying offer or will “win” a tiebreaker if there are identical offers. Considering free agency was not truly a thing previously, this should require teams to step up their game in terms of providing good environments for players to entice them to stay or join.

Other benefits include maximums on the number of games that can be scheduled in a season and the frequency of games, and extensive leave policies, including for mental health, parental leave (birth or adoption), pregnancy leave and continuation of salary for pregnant players and vacation time. Players will have access to a 401k retirement plan and the opportunity for revenue sharing if the league turns a profit in the future.

Also worth noting, the CBA establishes minimum standards for medical personnel at clubs, a nod to times in the recent past where teams skimped on necessary medical standards for their players.

All in all, a first CBA is a really big deal, because it’s the foundation of future deals, and while time will tell the ways in which this one really paid off for the players and where it was lacking, on paper on day one it looks pretty damn strong for the players. Congrats to all for getting the job done, and now, let’s bring on the preseason!

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