Dartmouth refuses to work with basketball players’ union

A poster of a basketball player is attached to a lamppost on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover last month.

A poster of a basketball player is attached to a lamppost on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover last month. ap file — Robert F. Bukaty

The Associated Press

Published: 03-19-2024 12:16 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College will not enter into collective bargaining with the union its men’s basketball players voted to join earlier this month, the school said Monday in a move that could send the case to federal court.

In a statement announcing its refusal to bargain a labor deal with the athletes, the school was adamant that it believes “athletes in the Ivy League are not employees.”

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled last month that Dartmouth basketball players were employees, clearing the way for them to vote to join the union.

The players then voted 13-2 to join the Service Employees International Union Local 560.

“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,” the school said in its statement, which called the players “students whose educational program includes athletics.”

Dartmouth is asking for a review of the regional director’s decision by the full board.

“From a procedural standpoint, if the full NLRB refuses to overturn the regional director’s decision, Dartmouth’s only remaining option to challenge this legal error is to engage in a technical refusal to bargain, an unprecedented step in our long history of labor negotiations,” the school said.

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

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