NLRB grants appeal extension to Dartmouth ahead of union vote

On3 imageby:Pete Nakos02/12/24

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Michael McCann On Dartmouth Basketball's Situation | 02.07.24

National Labor Relations Board counsel Diane Bridge extended the Dartmouth trustee’s time to file an appeal on Monday to a regional office’s ruling that the institution’s men’s basketball team are employees.

The deadline to file an appeal to NLRB regional director Laura Sacks’ decision has been extended from Feb. 20 to March 5, the same day the Dartmouth team has scheduled an in-person election to form a union. The ballot count is set to begin at 1 p.m. ET in Hanover, New Hampshire. Players will be voting to be represented by SEIU Local 560.

The extension gives Dartmouth more time to piece together its appeal of the decision. The NLRB decision last week was not a stunning surprise, as the NLRB general counsel Jennifer A. Abruzzo has openly talked about her beliefs that college athletes are employees. The National Labor Relations Board enforces U.S. labor law.

Dartmouth player representatives Cade Haskins and Romeo Myrthil called the ruling “a significant step forward for college athletes” last week. They also announced they plan to form the Ivy League Players Association for basketball players across the league.

Speaking after Dartmouth’s loss to Harvard last Saturday, Myrthil said he wasn’t expecting anything different when the players vote on unionization next month. All 15 members of the team signed the initial petition asking to be represented by the SEIU.

“We have teammates here that we all love and support,” Myrthil said. “And whoever comes into the Dartmouth family is part of our family. So, we’ll support them as much as we can.”

Dartmouth union vote will draw national attention

The NLRB decision classifying Dartmouth basketball players as employees of the institution is a test case, in a sense. If the vote decides on Dartmouth basketball players forming a union, the team will have the opportunity to sit down and collectively bargain with the institution.

The NLRB regional director’s decision on Dartmouth could be a telling sign that more and more judges do not want to protect the NCAA’s amateur model.

“Ultimately, the NCAA has received deference for the last several decades, because courts wanted to protect the uniqueness of college sports and wanted to protect amateurism, wanted to protect the academic ideals,” Tulane sports law professor Gabe Feldman previously told On3. “There now seem to be more and more judges who are less willing to give that deference and don’t see college sports as different.”