SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies

WNBA PLAYERS' EYE ON UNIONIZATION EARNS FRONT-PAGE NOTICE

          With the WNBA set to begin its second season on June
     11, its players "are wondering whether they need to ask for
     more" and unionizing is one alternative that has "growing
     appeal," according to Lena Williams in a front-page feature
     in Sunday's N.Y. TIMES.  Players and agents say that under
     their WNBA deals, players "can be terminated at any time,
     cannot endorse products that compete with the league's 15
     sponsors, are not entitled to percentages from sales of team
     merchandise and receive health benefits only when they
     play."  Some players add that the language of the WNBA's
     contracts "is so ambiguous that it is unclear whether
     players are entitled to be paid if injured."  Others say
     that WNBA players "are in certain ways worse off financially
     than" ABL players, who receive a higher average salary and
     "receive better benefits."  So WNBA players are talking and
     "trying to figure out who might represent them and how to
     get what they want without hurting the league they fought so
     hard to create."  The NBPA said it would like to represent
     the women and "many" players feel it would be the "logical
     choice."  The Women's Coaches Association is "also lobbying
     for the job" along with a "handful" of sports agents.  But
     some players have "expressed reservations about joining
     ranks with the men" and feel they aren't concerned about the
     same issues.  League execs are "wary of the impact of a
     union."  WNBA President Val Ackerman admits unionization "is
     likely.  We accept its possibility.  But in some respects it
     does seem premature" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/12).

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