Fifteen Dartmouth men’s basketball players are seeking to unionize, according to a petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board and obtained by The athlete Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), based in New England, has filed a petition seeking an election to become a player representative, excluding team managers and supervisors.
- No decision has been made on the petition or whether an election will be held.
- This is not the first attempt to form a union for college athletes, but it may be the first successful one. In 2015, Northwestern football players lobbied to form a union, but their case was ultimately dismissed by the NLRB.
- There are also issues pending with the Board regarding college athletes. A hearing is scheduled for November for a case involving the NLRB issuing a complaint against the NCAA, the Pac-12 Conference and the University of Southern California over unfair labor practices.
In February, the National College Players Association filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB against the NCAA, Pac-12, and USC as joint employers of FBS football players, men’s basketball players, and women’s basketball players. The move was the latest in a series of multiple legal attempts by many to reshape the way college athletes can receive compensation for the billions of dollars that college sports bring in.
The NCAA stated that athletes should not be employees, and lobbied Congress to pass a federal law classifying them as non-employees.
In April, NCAA President Charlie Baker said he believed most college athletes did not want to become employees of their school, league or NCAA.
“I don’t think you’ll find a lot of student-athletes who want to become employees,” Baker said at the LEAD1 Association’s annual spring meeting. “I haven’t found a lot, and there’s a lot of good reasons for that. Obviously there’s a lot of movement in the courts at this point around this issue these days, which will limit what I choose to say about this topic. But I think student-athletes want to be student-athletes , and it is up to us to figure out how to achieve this for them in a variety of environments and in different circumstances.
“Maybe there are ways to do that that are different for certain departments and certain programs at certain levels. But if we were really serious about being student-athletes, I’m not sure they would think that’s where they want to go.”
The NLRB only has jurisdiction over the private sector, but NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo’s decision to pursue the NCAA and conferences as joint employers in the Pac-12 and USC case could open up the possibility of giving public school players the right to join unions as well. .
Dartmouth is a private school and does not offer athletic scholarships, which could add an issue to the issue.
The Ivy League declined to comment. Dartmouth and NCAA team members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The petition states that, if appropriate, the NLRB “will first see whether the parties will enter into an election agreement specifying the method, date, time, and place of the election and the unit of employees eligible to vote.”
If the parties do not voluntarily agree to an election, a hearing will be held at 10 a.m. ET on October 3 via video conference and continue over successive days until it concludes, “unless the Regional Director concludes that exceptional circumstances warrant otherwise,” according to the A letter sent to Dartmouth relating to the case was obtained by The athlete.
“Prior to the commencement of the hearing, the NLRB will continue to explore potential areas of agreement with the parties in order to reach an election agreement and eliminate or limit the costs associated with formal hearings,” the letter said.
An election may be made by the NLRB after the hearing, if appropriate.
(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)
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