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How WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike got her fellow players an 83% pay raise—and paid maternity leave

The players association president got her comrades a full revenue split with owners and maternity leave with full salary.

How WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike got her fellow players an 83% pay raise—and paid maternity leave
[Illustration: Erick Davila]

In January, the WNBA and its players union announced a new collective bargaining agreement that was hailed as one of the most progressive in women’s sports. Under the leadership of WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike, a 29-year-old former WNBA MVP, the maximum WNBA salary went up by almost 83%, to $215,000, and the women now enjoy the same share of league revenues—50%—as their male counterparts. The deal also provides maternity leave with full salary, a dedicated space in arenas for nursing mothers, and a $5,000 annual childcare stipend. The collective bargaining agreement sets a high bar not just for other sports but for all of business. “It doesn’t matter what job you have, we’re all women working and trying to have our voices be heard in this world,” Ogwumike says. “I’m happy we can be an inspiration to other working women, to also fight for what they deserve.” Much to her surprise, she had to return to the bargaining table during the COVID-19 pandemic, and helped ratify a plan for her players to receive full pay if they returned to stage a truncated 22-game season, along with a full playoff schedule.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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