The WNBA Players Association hosted a player breakfast Wednesday morning in Las Vegas, hours before the WNBA All-Star Game tips off between the United States Olympic team and a team of WNBA All-Stars.
At the breakfast, there was a spirited discussion about whether Team USA would explore forming a union of their own, similar to the one representing the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Just Women’s Sports has learned.
The USWNT Players Association has served as the team’s bargaining arm since 2000. Recently, the USWNTPA has been active in the fight for gender pay equity. In 2019, all 28 members of the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, arguing that the federation pays the women less than the players on the men’s national team for equal work, while also denying them the same level of playing and travel conditions, support and promotion.
The lawsuit, which followed a charge of wage discrimination filed by members of the USWNT with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016, has led to widespread backlash against U.S. Soccer for their handling of the case. Former U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro stepped down in 2020 following heavy public criticism of a legal filing in the case, which argued that women were inherently less skilled and that the USWNT bore less responsibility than their male counterparts.
Cindy Parlow Cone, Cordeiro’s successor, said in June that U.S. Soccer is “committed to equal pay” for national team members but that “to make up the difference in FIFA prize money is untenable, and would likely bankrupt the Federation.”
USA Basketball took a step toward providing further financial security for its players in 2019 when it introduced a training program for eight national team members. The players could earn up to $100,000 by participating in every window of the extended training camp. The idea was to encourage eight of the top players to stay in the U.S. in the year leading up to the Olympics rather than play overseas, where many earn higher salaries than they do in the WNBA.
The next year, the WNBPA negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement before the 2020 season that increased player salaries and improved benefits related to travel, maternity leave and and other conditions.