Dartmouth men's basketball team votes to unionize

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — The Dartmouth men's basketball team voted to unionize Tuesday in an unprecedented step toward forming the first labor union for college athletes and another blow to the NCAA's flagging amateur business model.

In an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board in the school's human resources offices, players voted 13 to 2 to join the Service Employees International Union Local 560, which already represents some Dartmouth workers. Vote for every player on the roster.

“Today is a great day for our team,” said Dartmouth juniors Cade Haskins and Romeo Merthel, who led the effort. We stuck together all season and won this election. Obviously, as students, we can also be campus workers and union members. Dartmouth seems stuck in the past. “It is time for the era of amateurism to end.”

The school has appealed to the full NLRB seeking reversal The board's regional administrator decided last month that the Dartmouth players are employees Therefore, he has the right to join unions. The two sides also have until March 12 to file an objection with the NLRB regarding the election procedures; Except for this, the local will be accredited as the labor bargaining representative.

Members of an Ivy League school's men's basketball team have voted to unionize. Reporter Gethin Culpo has the story.

The case could also end up in federal court, Which will likely delay negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement until long after the current members of the basketball team have graduated.

Dartmouth told students that unionizing could result in a team being kicked out of the Ivy League, or even the NCAA. The school said in a statement that it supports the five unions it is negotiating with on campus, including SEIU Local 560, but insisted that the players are students, not employees.

“For Ivy League students who are college athletes, academics are of primary importance, and athletic pursuit is part of the educational experience,” the school said in a statement. “Categorizing these students as employees simply because they play basketball is unprecedented and inaccurate. Therefore, we do not believe that unionizing is appropriate.”

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Athletes or employees?

Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has long maintained that its players are “student-athletes” who were in school primarily to study, college sports have grown to become A multi-billion dollar industry This rewards coaches and schools handsomely while players remain unpaid amateurs.

Recent court decisions have invalidated this framework, as players are now allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness and earn a stipend that is still limited to cover living expenses beyond the cost of attendance. The decision last month that Big Green players are school employees, with the right to form a union, threatens to upend the amateur model.

“I think this is just the beginning,” Haskins said after the vote. “I think this will have a domino effect on other cases around the country, and that may lead to other changes.”

In a statement, the NCAA stood by its view of athletes as students first.

“The association believes that change in college sports is long overdue, and is seeking important reforms,” the governing body said. “However, there are some issues that the NCAA cannot address alone, and the NCAA looks forward to working with Congress to make the necessary changes in the best interest of all student-athletes.”

A separate NLRB complaint claims football and basketball Players in Southern California They are considered employees of their school, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA. Even if Dartmouth succeeds in its attempts to prevent players from unionizing, it is unlikely to stop similar moves at high-profile, revenue-generating college sports programs, said Mark Edelman, a law professor at Baruch College in New York.

“It does not seem likely that it would preclude the possibility of football and basketball teams at schools within conferences like the SEC and Big Ten continuing to move forward in trying to form a union,” Edelman said.

Dartmouth decision

The election at Dartmouth lasted about an hour, with players registering before an NLRB representative, at 1 p.m., declared voting closed. After media and observers from both sides were allowed into the room, Dartmouth attorney Josh Grubman renewed the school's request to withhold ballots until all appeals are conducted. It was rejected.

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NLRB agent Hilary Bede pulled the packing tape off the brown cardboard sheet, took out the ballots and lifted the dismantled box to show it was empty. She then sorted the folded yellow ballot papers into piles of “yes” and “no” and checked them for irregularities before counting them one by one.

(The team didn't wait for the count: It had a 2 p.m. shootout to prepare for Tuesday night's game against Harvard. Dartmouth, which was in last place in the Ivy League, beat the Crimson 76-69 for only its second conference win. Chapter.)

Although all 15 players signed a letter supporting the effort, labor advocates said the 13-2 vote still represented a clear victory. Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark praised the players “for their courage and leadership in the movement to establish and advance the rights of college athletes.”

“By voting to unionize, these athletes have an unprecedented seat at the table and a powerful voice with which to negotiate for rights and benefits that have been ignored for too long,” he said.

Potential impact

A college athletic union would be unprecedented in American sports. For precedent An attempt to unify the Northwestern football team failed Because opponents in the Big Ten include public schools that are not subject to the NLRB's jurisdiction.

Which is why one of the biggest threats the NCAA faces doesn't come from one of the big-money football programs like Alabama or Michigan, which are largely indistinguishable from professional sports teams. Instead, it's the Ivy League, formed in 1954 by eight academically elite schools in the Northeast, whose players don't get athletic scholarships, whose teams play in understaffed gyms, and whose games are streamed online rather than on TV. TV network.

“These young men will go on to become one of the greatest basketball teams in history,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU International. “The Ivy League is where the whole scandalous model of semi-freelancing in college sports was born, and this is where it will die.”

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Dan Hurley, coach of UConn's defending men's national title team, said he believes unionizing and treating players as employees is the future of college basketball.

“These players put in amazing work days, work weeks for five or six months,” he said. “I think there's a lot to be settled.”

Haskins, a 6-foot-6 forward from Minneapolis, is already a member of the local SEIU as a dining hall employee, working 10 to 15 hours a week from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to earn spending money; Myrthel, a 6-foot-2 bouncer from Solna, Sweden, works part-time checking people into the gym. They said their top priority in bargaining was health insurance so they wouldn't incur out-of-pocket costs for their injuries.

“I'm playing a sport that I love, and I'm grateful to play it,” said Haskins, who suffered an ankle injury due to a torn hip and shoulder. “But it's definitely a burden.”

Merthel and Haskins said they heard from students at nearly every conference in the country to learn about their unionization efforts. They said They want to form an Ivy League Players Association That would include athletes from other sports on campus and other schools in the conference.

However, they realize this change may come too late to benefit them and their current teammates: four seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

“We're confident with the group we have now. But it depends on how long this takes,” Merthel said. “We'll see. Next year we will talk to our new students and introduce them to the idea and what it means. And then hopefully it will pass. And I'm pretty confident she will.

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AP College Sports Writer Ralph D. contributed. Russo and AP Sports Writer Pat Eaton-Robb. Jimmy Golin covers sports and law for The Associated Press.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll And https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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