Dartmouth men’s basketball players petition the NLRB to unionize

Men’s basketball players at Dartmouth College filed a unionization petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday that, if successful, would officially make them employees of the private Ivy League school and give them the right to collective bargaining.

According to the petition, which lists the team’s 15 players but excludes managers and supervisors, the players want to join the Local 560 chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

“We have the utmost respect for our students and unions in general,” Dartmouth said in a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday. “We are carefully reviewing this petition with the goal of responding in a timely yet thoughtful manner consistent with Dartmouth’s educational mission and priorities.”

The team’s efforts represent the latest chapter in college athletes’ broader push to take control of their status and classification.

The NLRB, a federal agency that enforces U.S. labor law related to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices, deterred an attempt by Northwestern football players to unionize in 2014. It changed course after a leadership change in 2021.

Later that year, the national board issued a memo saying it considered college football players and some other athletes in revenue-generating sports to be employees of their schools, opening the door to athletes at private universities over player health issues , remuneration etc. to negotiate other working conditions.

In a statement accompanying that memo, NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said that players are employees “who have the right to act collectively to improve their conditions of employment.” The memo, she said, was intended “to help inform the public , particularly players at academic institutions, colleges and universities, athletic conferences and the NCAA, of the legal position I will take regarding employee status and misclassification in appropriate cases.”

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Wednesday’s petition follows two NLRB complaints filed earlier this year, although neither relates to union organizing.

In May, the organization’s Los Angeles office filed a complaint against the University of Southern California, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA, alleging that they unlawfully misidentified college athletes in men’s and women’s basketball and football “student-athletes” and not employees.

In July, the NLRB received an unfair labor practice complaint filed against Northwestern. The complaint, filed by Michael Hsu, co-founder of the College Basketball Players Association, argued that Northwestern violated federal law by misclassifying its players as student-athletes. Hsu told CBS Sports that the complaint stems from the school referring to players as student-athletes during its ongoing investigation into hazing allegations involving the football team.

The Dartmouth petition comes eight years after the NLRB thwarted Northwest football’s attempt to unionize, saying it considered college athletics outside its purview. That decision ignored a 2014 ruling by Peter Sung Ohr — a regional NLRB director who now serves as the organization’s deputy general counsel — that Northwestern football players were eligible employees.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/09/14/dartmouth-mens-basketball-unionize-nlrb/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Dartmouth men’s basketball players petition the NLRB to unionize

Ian Walker

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