The men’s basketball team at Dartmouth College will vote on whether to become the first college athletes to join a union.
Basketball players at Dartmouth will get a chance to vote on whether to join a union, a potential breakthrough in efforts to consolidate the lucrative business of college sports.
The NLRB found that the Dartmouth basketball players were “employees.”
Dartmouth will appeal the finding
NCAA Division I athletics will generate approximately $17.5 billion in revenue in 2022.
The decision to hold the vote was announced late Monday by the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union representation votes for private employers. The NLRB’s regional director in Boston ruled that Dartmouth “had the right to supervise the work performed by the Dartmouth men’s basketball team and that the petitioned basketball players were employees because the players performed that work for compensation.”
Dartmouth President Sian Beilock told CNN on Tuesday that Dartmouth will appeal the finding.
“We have productive relations with many trade unions. We believe our athletes are students,” he told Poppy Harlow on CNN This Morning. “We do not give scholarships to athletes. We are student-athletes here, and we believe that our students should be considered in this way as well.”
But the Service Employees International Union, the union that wants to represent the basketball players, claimed that the players at Dartmouth received compensation for part of the year in the form of room and board, equipment, clothing and tickets, while not receiving a stipend. both home and road games, footwear, nutrition and access to medical professionals, exclusive use of certain facilities and academic support.
This is the second time the NLRB has considered whether student athletes are employees eligible for union representation. The previous time, in 2014 and 2015, efforts were made to organize football players at Northwestern University.
But in that case, the full NLRB board prevented the vote from being completed. It did not rule on whether the football players were employees, but instead ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to hold an election because the governing labor law only allows the NLRB to look at private-sector workplaces and most colleges. football programs are in public schools.
However, the regional director in the present case noted that the NLRB at that time “never ruled whether a team-by-team arrangement was appropriate and never found that it would have jurisdiction over a single-team union. ”
Another change from the earlier case came in 2021, when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA’s rules prohibiting compensation to student athletes violated antitrust laws, opening the way for more compensation.
Professional sports are one of the most tightly unionized sectors of the economy, with athletes in all four major team sports played in the United States unionized. Union representation expanded to include minor league baseball players in 2022.
According to an NCAA report, NCAA Division I athletics will generate approximately $17.5 billion in revenue in 2022. Dartmouth’s men’s basketball team reported $1.3 million in total revenue for the 2021-22 academic year, the most recent data available from the Department of Education.
Many university students, such as graduate teaching assistants and college students, have on-campus jobs and who are members of a trade union. In fact, it has been the sector of the nation’s total workforce that has seen the greatest success with union organizing campaigns in recent years, with thousands of students voting to join unions. But since they receive W-2 forms and pay them as compensation, there is little question that those students are employees.