Dartmouth men’s basketball team votes to unionize

  • Members of the team voted 13-2 in favor of unionizing
  • With representation, players can negotiate salary, benefits, conditions
  • Dartmouth has already filed an objection to the union vote

(NewsNation) — The Dartmouth men’s basketball team lost its final game of the season to Harvard Tuesday night, but off the court, many are calling its members big winners and game changers after they voted to unionize.

Members of the team voted 13-2 in favor of joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), making it the first unionized college sports team in the country.

Players announced they had planned to unionize last September.

With union representation and through collective bargaining, players could negotiate a salary, benefits, practice hours and working conditions. However, that won’t happen anytime soon, as Dartmouth has already filed an objection to the union vote.

School officials may refuse to negotiate with the students while the case goes through the appeals process, which could take months or even years — possibly even reaching the Supreme Court.

The team’s vote to unionize has sent shockwaves through the entire college system and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. The NCAA has already asked lawmakers to regulate “name, image, and likeness” deals, which allows college athletes to make millions.

Charlie Baker, the president of the NCAA, has asked Congress to put into law a special status or regulation for student-athletes that stipulates they cannot be considered employees of a college institution. Baker has argued the student’s scholarships should be considered compensation enough.

As it stands now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) can only work with private colleges and universities to recognize unions.

College presidents and athletic directors are watching how Dartmouth handles the issue, fearing they could be next. However, it will likely take a long time for a resolution to be reached.

“Dartmouth is not just making an appeal in terms of their student-athletes not becoming unionized, they have college campuses, they have college presidents and athletic directors from around the country. I guarantee you from Big Ten schools to Ivy League schools, they are saying you have to make this go away,” Jason Greer, a consultant and former NLRB agent, said.

A statement from the NCAA said, in part, it is “pursuing significant reforms” to give college athletes more benefits but that players “should not be forced into an employment model.”

Northwestern University’s football team tried unionizing in 2014, but the NLRB did not accept its request at the time.

Meanwhile, football and basketball players at the University of Southern California currently have a case with the NLRB to determine if the student-athletes can legally be considered employees at the university.

Sports

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