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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College declines to bargain with men’s basketball team's union

The College is challenging the regional National Labor Relations Board’s ruling that members of the basketball team are considered employees.

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Today, Dartmouth College declined a request to bargain with the men’s basketball team's union, College spokesperson Jana Barnello wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth. On March 5, members of the team voted to unionize as part of the Service Employees International Union, Local 560 in a historic 13-2 vote, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. 

National Labor Relations Board regional director Laura Sacks ruled in February that members of the men’s basketball team are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. Barnello wrote that the College is appealing this decision, which she called a “legal error,” as “contrary to every legal precedent.” 

“Given Dartmouth’s decades-long commitment to athletics as an extension of our academic mission, we believe the regional director has made an extraordinary mistake in finding these students are employees,” Barnello wrote. “Varsity athletes in the Ivy League are not employees; they are students whose educational program includes athletics.” 

If the full NLRB upholds the regional director’s decision, Barnello wrote that the College will only have one remaining option to challenge the ruling — engaging in a technical refusal to bargain, or a refusal to bargain in good faith. According to Barnello, this action would mark an “unprecedented step” in the College’s history of labor negotiations. 

“[Refusing to bargain] will likely result in SEIU Local 560 filing an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, which we would appeal,” Barnello added. “This is the only lever Dartmouth has to get this matter reviewed by a federal court.”