The latest attempt at college athlete unionization is here. The Dartmouth men’s basketball team filed a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize all 15 players with the help of a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
Northwestern football players famously made a union try with the NLRB in 2014, but the office rejected the attempt citing a technicality.
But, since then, the NLRB has seemingly changed its stance towards college athletics and unions. NLRB’s general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo in 2021 that stated student athletes should be classified as employees under the the National Labor Relations Act.
The attempt by Dartmouth doesn’t include student managers, only the 15 rostered men’s basketball players. If successful, Dartmouth men’s basketball players would gain the right to collectively bargain for their working rights — in the context of college basketball, think equipment, hours, dorms, food allowances, travel requirements, and potentially more that I can’t think of — and would be officially considered university employees. Dartmouth has precedent of student unionization, with unions representing workers in the school cafeteria and library.
With Dartmouth being a private, Ivy League school, this could give the NLRB direct jurisdiction on the decision, but the lack of athletic scholarships at Ivy schools could muddy the waters. As many who are much more knowledgable about labor law than I am have pointed out — see this tweet by Michael McCann, and check out whatever he writes on this — don’t expect a decision in the immediate future on this.