The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday ordered a union election for Dartmouth College's men's basketball players, saying, “Because Dartmouth has the right to control the work that the players do,” “the players will have to hire workers to do that work.” to do so in exchange for compensation.” They are school employees under the National Labor Relations Act.
In her 25-page decision, Laura A. Sachs wrote about witness testimony from an October hearing, from Dartmouth's player handbook to the itinerary for Dartmouth's game in Princeton in January 2023. Cited the document.
This is the second time in the past decade that a regional director for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered athletes from college sports programs to vote for a union. And Monday's ruling comes as the NLRB's Los Angeles office has a separate lawsuit pending against the University of Southern California, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA regarding the employment status of football, men's basketball and women's basketball players. It was held inside.
The issue of college athletes' employment status will also be the focus of a pending federal court case.rd United States Court of Appeals for the Circuit. And the bill has gained attention in Congress, with strong lobbying by the NCAA, conferences, and schools to pass legislation that would prohibit athletes from being certified as school officials because they play college sports. ing.
In March 2014, a union election was ordered for the Northwestern football team, but the results were not made public. The university requested a review of the regional director's ruling by the full NLRB, but in August 2015 the board ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over public schools and that working on the Northwestern initiative was against the national university code. , refused to accept jurisdiction over the matter. The responsibility of labor relations laws is for boards of directors to create stable and predictable working environments in various industries.
Dartmouth could seek a similar review of Monday's ruling, but a player vote could be held in the meantime, as was the case with Northwestern. Dartmouth seeks NLRB review and could take the case to a federal appeals court if it disagrees with the board's ruling.
“I think it's historic,” Michael LeRoy, a labor law professor at the University of Illinois, said of Monday's decision, despite the possibility of an appeal by the school. “Things have changed dramatically in the 10 years since the Northwestern case. It's changed,” he said.
He said the North West case was “strange. It's a much colder reality.” And he predicted it would impact NLRB charges, including USC, the Pac-12 and the NCAA. “This changes the psychology of what the reality of unionization means for college athletes. … The NCAA and its leaders should be deeply concerned,” he said.
But he also noted that the NLRB and potential court review will take a long time, and since 2024 is a presidential election year, things could change under a Republican administration.
Jennifer Abruzzo, the NLRB's general counsel appointed by the Biden administration, released a memo in September 2021 stating that college athletes are considered school employees under the National Labor Relations Act, sparking the Dartmouth lawsuit. Had made.
The Dartmouth complaint was filed in September 2023, and a hearing was held in mid-October.
In Monday's ruling, Regional Director Sachs said the players “do work that benefits Dartmouth. He does not know how much revenue the men's basketball program generates and whether the program makes a profit.” The profitability of a particular business does not affect the status of individual employees engaged in that business, although there is a factual dispute as to whether the
She also wrote that Dartmouth “has significant control over the work of its basketball players.” She said Dartmouth's student-athlete handbook “functions in many ways as an employee handbook.”
She gave several examples of how universities, their officials and coaches decide what players can do and when. While many of the examples she gave are part of the routine for most college sports teams, she noted that Dartmouth players “require special permission to even get haircuts on the road.”
According to the ruling, Dartmouth argued that these types of restrictions were necessary for the safety of its athletes and were “no different from the restrictions imposed on the student body as a whole.”
“However,” Sachs writes, “the record shows that other student body members (the majority of whom, like the basketball players at issue here, are likely legal adults) have attended the school's There is no evidence that they are being closely supervised when leaving the premises.''Dartmouth's campus. ”
Professor Sachs found that even though Dartmouth athletes did not receive athletic scholarships, they received “compensation” that included special treatment in order to gain “coveted” admission to the prestigious school. .
“The coaching staff assigns certain admission slots to scouted players based on their basketball skills,” she wrote. A lifetime of benefits for Ivy League graduates. ”
Sachs also said that the school provides a wide range of support to all students, and that once it was discovered that the male basketball player was a school employee, students who participate in a variety of other extracurricular activities would also be considered school employees. Dartmouth rejected Dartmouth's claim that it could be
He added that students' schedules are not “dominated” by their participation in other activities, and that “students are encouraged to attend classes at specific times and then adhere to their schedules due to the activity's travel requirements.” “It's not so bad that I have to miss classes given to me,” he said.
Citing testimony in the lawsuit regarding the size of the support athletic department personnel involved with the men's basketball team, Sachs wrote:
“There is no evidence in the record to suggest that other students receive the same level of personal support or special consideration that individuals participating in high-profile Division I collegiate athletics receive.''
“The record also does not suggest that the hypothetical student journalists, actors, and musicians described by their employers in their briefs were recruited and admitted through a special process because of their investigative or artistic skills. No. Records also show that Dartmouth will need to hire multiple professionals to oversee funding and brand management for these students' journalistic and artistic endeavors. do not have.”