The WNBA is assured of labor peace for the next few years.
The league and its players' union reached a labor agreement Saturday on a six-year deal. It replaces the agreement that expired Sept. 30, a few weeks before the Minnesota Lynx won their second WNBA title in three seasons.
The maximum team roster size will increase by one to 12 under the deal, which must be drafted into a formal collective bargaining agreement in the next few weeks.
''The WNBA and WNBPA are pleased to announce an agreement in principle on a new collective bargaining agreement,'' WNBA President Laurel Richie told The Associated Press. ''Over the next week to 10 days, we will be working together to complete the written agreement.''
The players ratified the deal in a vote over the past few days. The union constitution required approval from a majority of the voting members was needed.
''This is an important step in the process and we will now focus on completing a fully drafted Collective Bargaining Agreement,'' WNBPA director of operations Pam Wheeler said.
Among the changes:
-Owners will be able to increase fines and penalties associated with overseas play when players can't fulfill WNBA obligations.
-Smaller annual increases in the salary cap than called for in the previous deal.
-An improved revenue sharing program for the players.
Roster size was the biggest issue for the players. Teams were severely hampered after rosters were cut from 13 to 11 in 2009 to save money and keep labor peace. Some teams suited up just eight players for games last season due to injuries.
The agreement follows a deal by a Magic Johnson-led group to buy the Los Angeles Sparks, whose previous owner bowed out in mid-December.
The WNBA season starts May 16, a few weeks after training camps open.
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