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Dillon Uses Basketball To Highlight Union Issue

by | Apr 8, 2014 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Labor, Sports, New Haven

Courtesy of the House Democratic Caucus With the NCAA basketball championships and both of the University of Connecticut teams on her mind, state Rep. Pat Dillon, D-New Haven, said she wants to get rid of any state law that would make it difficult for student athletes to unionize.

Citing the National Labor Relations Board ruling by a regional director in favor of allowing Northwestern football players to form a union, Dillon said she wants to make sure that a similar opportunity is available to Connecticut athletes.

“It appears that state law may be an impediment,” Dillon said Monday. “NLRB ruled that athletes at private schools have the right to unionize, but said state labor laws may prohibit public school students from organizing. I am prepared to file legislation to make sure athletes at both public and private schools are on equal footing.”

She said athletes should be able to make a choice about joining a union and the state “has an obligation to remove any barriers.”

Dillon has worked with Ramogi Huma, who led the National College Athletes Players Association, in filing the complaint. But she will have to find legislation to amend since the time for introducing bills has ended.

Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said he understands that students do a lot of work, but he would rather wait and see what happens with the NLRB decision.

Northwestern University has appealed the decision to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington.

Holder-Winfield said a lot of the student-athletes get scholarships, but “they don’t get what many of us believe they should be getting in return.” However, he said there’s nothing wrong with letting it play out before Connecticut legislators start changing the law.

Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said the state should give student-athletes the ability to negotiate their working conditions and health care.

“The NCAA pulls in huge salaries,” Pelletier said. “The students often don’t see any of that money.”

Dillon pointed to a March 27 interview with a University of Connecticut basketball player to prove the need for a players union.

“Under NCAA rules, players cannot seek any outside employment,” Dillon said. “UConn’s Shabazz Napier was asked about the NLRB ruling by reporters and said there are nights he goes to bed hungry.”

In a March 27 interview after a game Napier was asked about the NLRB decision, which had been handed down just a day earlier.

“As student athletes we get utilized for what we do so well,” Napier told reporters. “But that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights where we don’t have enough food and sometimes money is needed.”

He said he doesn’t think athletes need hundreds of thousands of dollars, but there are times when money falls short and because of NCAA rules athletes are unable to receive additional money from the university.

“There are hungry nights where I go to bed and I’m starvin’,” Napier said.

But he said he doesn’t feel like an employee. He feels like a student-athlete.

Northwestern University is expected to file its appeal of the decision by April 9, according to Chicago news reports.

The Connecticut General Assembly session adjourns on May 7.

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(7) Archived Comments

posted by: dano860 | April 8, 2014  8:58am

“Shabazz Napier, like all our scholarship athletes, is provided the maximum meal plan that is allowable under NCAA rules. UConn does not have a cafeteria devoted specifically to student-athletes, but they have access to the same cafeterias which are available to all our students,” Phil Chardis said in a statement.

UConn’s Student Athlete Handbook outlines that UConn’s athletes with a meal plan have access to the all-you-can-eat dining facilities that are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Ct. Mirror, Apr. 7, 2014.)
So I would think that they have some of that food stashed in the dorm fridge, we always did.
If they do go this way I can foresee a whole new scouting and agent process. We could demand repayment of all compensation should they not perform in academics and their chosen sport. Morality clauses etc, it will be great watching kids that have never had any money go crazy spending it.
As with anything attached to a union contract things will be more expensive. The schools will have to reconsider the distribution of all that money earned on those “T” shirts and T.V. contracts. Tickets will have to go up and tuition will probably follow. There are tons more ramifications to this than we can imagine at this point in time.
It may be easier and cheaper to set up team dorms with 24/7 chefs and restaurants.

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 8, 2014  10:03am

If a student athlete unionizes then the benefits they get (tuition, room and board, stipend) all gets taxed.

So, anout of state student would have to pay taxes on almost 160-200K income over their four years. If they had the money to do that then being hungry at night like Napier said would not be an issue.

Elite student athletes need to be constantly fueling their bodies so what Napier says is accurate, and the NCAA should be ashamed at their stupidity as well.

If she wants to do something that makes sense then allow the athletes to leave the dining hall with food for later. They’re not allowed to do that now because the fear is that they’ll bring a meal to someone not on the dining plan. If you dont want to do that then have the school provide some type of food for these athletes that they can keep in their room so at midnight when their body is crying out for nutrition they dont have to starve or eat ramen noodles.

I say Ramen Noodles because there was a coach in the SEC that got in trouble because he provided a few of his players Ramen Noodles paid for out of his own pocket because they were starving at night and were dirt poor.

posted by: joemanc | April 8, 2014  11:58am

I don’t understand why there is not a minor leagues for basketball and football. Baseball and Hockey have them. A lot of these kids on scholarships are getting a free ride so they can make millions in the pros later. College should be about education first, and athletics somewhere after that. Wasn’t it just last year that UConn BB was on academic probation? And then we wonder why our education system is failing.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | April 8, 2014  1:30pm


The money from the merchandise sales should go to (or be split with) the student.  The schools are pretty blatantly exploiting the students there.  However, the money from those sales should be held in trust until the kid leaves school or graduates.  Nothing to be gained from infusing a bunch of 18yr olds with huge sums of money and then keeping them on campus.  That story doesn’t end well.

posted by: GBear423 | April 8, 2014  1:36pm


at Midnight they should be sleeping, that is what their “Athletic Bodies” need is full 8 hours.  they want regimented benefits then have regimented lives for the 4 years.  Soldiers* also are in peak physical condition, training every day all day. These kids are getting a 4 star education, which they may be squandering, I really do not get the story. Unions and their paid for Politicians I get, they want all that University cash.

posted by: justsayin | April 8, 2014  3:22pm

The numbers against this are easy to follow 9,000(approx) kids play college football 216(approx) make the pros. So the rest get a quality education, meals room board, travel, per-diem. Seems more than fair. How many athletic programs turn a profit? There is the question no one seems to ask.

posted by: joemanc | April 8, 2014  4:46pm

@justsayin - I think it’s more than 216 - the NFL draft goes on for days…32 teams certainly get more than 7 picks each. Unless you meant to say basketball, which makes sense.
But I believe hardly any turn a profit, other than some of the bigger schools, think Notre Dame which has their games televised by NBC. I remember a few years ago, when UConn made the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, I believe, the school lost money having to play in that game!
Anyways - one other idea I had…if these kids are using college as their springboard to millions, then when the kids sign their letter of intent, or whatever it’s called, that if they move to the pros, and receive a large enough salary, that they pay back their free tuition that they got. If the NBA had a minor league system, we wouldn’t have any of this nonsense. You go to college to learn!

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