NWSL and NWSL Players Association agree to first ever CBA

Lizzy Becherano
NWSL and NWSL Players Association agree to first-ever collective bargaining agreement on Monday night
NWSL and NWSL Players Association agree to first-ever collective bargaining agreement on Monday night / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The NWSL Players Association and National Women’s Soccer League agreed to the first ever collective bargaining agreement on Monday night, introducing player free agency, higher salaries with annual increases, and other health and wellness benefits through to 2026.

"This is a historic moment for women's soccer in the United States," NWSL interim CEO Marla Messing said in a statement. 

"This transformative agreement represents deserved advancements for our players, including significantly stronger compensation packages and benefits, enhanced training and playing environments, and a long-term commitment to continually improve the standards we all regard as essential to securing our position as the best women's soccer league in the world."

Free agency will begin in the 2023 season for players with six or more years in the league, and in 2024 players with five years will be eligible for the full benefits. 

Players with three years of service will have restricted free agency. Waived players will receive four weeks of severance pay plus a month of housing and health insurance.

"It was a long road to get here but proud to be a member of the @nwslplayers as we signed the first ever CBA in NWSL history," USWNT forward Alex Morgan said via Instagram.

The contract is set to raise the minimum salary by 60% to $35,000 with 4% annual increases. It also includes increased levels of free housing, transportation, 401(k) matching contributions, health insurance and other benefits. 

The NWSLPA first began the CBA negotiations with the league in March 2021, with more than 30 NWSL players participating in these sessions, according to the players' union.

"Players drove every decision in this process," NWSLPA executive director Meghann Burke said in a statement. "Over more than 40 bargaining sessions, these players stood strong and stood together, right up to the moment of ratification. This is a historic moment not only for our sport and our League, but for all working people who stand up and stand together."

Players have also secured up to six months of paid mental health leave, a seven-day summer break during the regular season and 42 days of vacation. Players will be guaranteed eight weeks of leave for birth or adoption as well as access to nursing facilities.

"I'm proud of everything in the CBA [and] indebted to our lawyers [and] the @nwsl_players for fighting for us. What hits home for me is the six month paid mental health leave [because] it means players don't have to be forced to show up everyday when they feel the weight of anxiety and depression," OL Reign's Bethany Balcer wrote on Twitter.