SBJ/Dec. 16-22, 2013/Labor and Agents

Talks on WNBA CBA picking up

The talks for a new WNBA collective-bargaining agreement have picked up in recent weeks, and more discussions between the league and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association are scheduled for later this month.

“Representatives from the union and the league have met several times over the past few weeks,” said Pam Wheeler, the WNBPA’s director of operations, in a statement. “We have several additional meetings scheduled and we expect the process to continue.”

The WNBA finished its postseason without labor disruption, although its prior CBA expired Sept. 30.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
A WNBA spokesman did not return an inquiry for further comment.

The WNBA has been operating without a CBA since the prior deal expired Sept. 30. The players presented a proposal in recent weeks, sources said, after the league made its first proposal in early October.

One of the main issues for the players has been adding a spot on the WNBA clubs’ 11-player roster. Players and agents say there is a problem in holding practices when more than one player is injured because the teams cannot practice five-on-five.

Although regular meetings are generally a sign of progress in labor talks, it is not clear whether the two sides are near agreement on that or any other issue. The two sides have been doing a good job of keeping the details of the talks private, agents and other industry sources said.

Player-side sources said the union told players and agents during WNBA All-Star Weekend in July that it hoped to have a new agreement by the end of 2013.

The WNBA has a history of making labor deals after the expiration of a prior agreement and doing so without a strike or a lockout. The CBA that expired earlier this fall replaced a six-year labor deal that was agreed to in January 2008 after the previous CBA expired in September 2007.

The WNBA needs a CBA to conduct free agency signings. In years with a collective-bargaining agreement, WNBA clubs were allowed to talk to players in mid-January and sign them at the beginning of February. WNBA training camps are scheduled to open in April.

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