On Monday night, the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association announced the ratification of the league’s first collective bargaining agreement. “From our inception, the Players Association has put players first. 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 2002, we are proud that players can confidently enter the tenth season of NWSL in a better position than ever before,” NWSLPA President Tori Huster said in a statement on Monday.
The players were prepared to not show up to training camp on Tuesday if an agreement was not reached. The NWSL Board of Governors is expected to ratify the contract sometime on Tuesday, according to The Athletic’s Meg Linehan.
Among the contract highlights, the union secured a 160 percent increase in minimum salaries for players to $35,000 per year, along with 4 percent year over year increases. The previous minimum a NWSL player could expect to make? A mere $22,000 as a professional! A large part of the public push during negotiations for the NWSLPA was the #NoMoreSideHustles for Professional Athletes campaign, highlighting how financially fucked professional women soccer players are with those dismal salaries. Gabrielle Lorraine Kessler, a former Houston Dash and Portland Thorns player who announced her retirement on Monday, detailed the exhausting schedule she had to cobble together to afford to play. “I would wake up at 3:45 am, go to work from 4 to 1 p.m., and then go straight to training form 1:30-4 p.m. and then do it all over again,” she said in a testimonial for the campaign.
The historic contract includes up to six months of paid mental health coverage and eight weeks of paid parental leave for birth or adoption as well as clean and private nursing facilities for relevant parents. The contract also secured four weeks of severance in addition to housing and health insurance for players waived during free agency. The full CBA will be made publicly available in the coming weeks.
The NWSL has gone through turmoil since negotiations began, including the dismissals of commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine last October. Their ouster followed allegations of sexual misconduct by North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley, Riley’s eventual firing and the separate firing of Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke for sexual misconduct.
In a tweeted statement, the NWSLPA wrote: “To the players who came before us: We stand on your shoulders. We hope we made you proud.”