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One Issue Separates WNBA, Union

April 28, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Charity appearances by players is the last issue separating the WNBA and the union from a labor agreement.

A source close to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press today the only unresolved matter concerns the number of not-for-profit appearances players make.

No negotiations are scheduled today.

The WNBA, entering its third year, is supposed to begin a 10-week season June 10. The labor dispute forced the postponement of this week’s draft.

Negotiations on Monday and Tuesday settled other matters on a four-year agreement. The contract would include a reopener option for the league or the union after three years, with both sides agreeing to no-lockout, no-strike clauses.

The agreement calls for 5 percent increases a year for draft picks. Players from the folded ABL would be treated as rookies for salary purposes this year but not subject to option clauses that teams hold on other rookies for their second seasons. Veterans would no longer be subject to such options.

An apparent agreement reached earlier this month fell apart last week when both sides claimed the other injected new terms at the last minute. The league postponed its player draft, which had been scheduled for Tuesday and Pam Wheeler, executive director of the union, charged the WNBA with trying to intimidate the players.

Earlier, the union and league agreed on a four-year deal that would increase minimum salaries from $15,000 to $30,000 for veterans and $25,000 for rookies. Those figures would increase to $40,000 and $30,000, respectively, by 2002. The benefits package was to include year-round health and dental benefits, pension, maternity benefits and life insurance.

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