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Labor Board Decision Prompts Call For Legislation

by | Aug 18, 2015 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Labor, Sports, Middletown

CTNJ file photo At least one lawmaker said he plans to raise legislation next year that would allow student-athletes to form a union.

The announcement comes that same day that the National Labor Relations Board declined to answer the question about whether student-athletes on scholarship are employees. In a unanimous decision, the NRLB said having union and non-union teams could lead to different standards at different schools and create competitive differences within an athletic conference.

It “would not promote stability in labor relations,” the five-member board concluded.

The ruling comes after a regional director in Chicago found that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are employees and are entitled to organize. Monday’s ruling puts that move to unionize on hold.

“The NLRB’s decision punts the question of allowing athletes to form unions to the states,” Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, said. “This year, I introduced legislation in Connecticut to allow some college athletes to form unions and I plan on reintroducing that bill next year.”

He said the decision only increases the pressure on states to act and decide “whether or not we value athletes’ rights.”

He added: “I can guarantee that this issue isn’t going away.”

Similar legislation Lesser introduced this year didn’t even get a public hearing. However, another bill that called for studying the issue did get a public hearing before it died in committee.

Lori Pelletier, executive secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, testified at that February hearing that college athletes should be considered employees of their institutions.

“These students directly or indirectly earn money for their schools. Endorsements from apparel companies, beverage and food companies, and TV rights just to name a few, bring in large amounts of money to the schools,” Pelletier said. “This income is earned by the student athletes for the schools thus making them employees of the school.”

The Connecticut Labor Department was in favor of a study, if there was money in the budget to fund it.

University of Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manual told the Labor Committee in February that full scholarship athletes will be provided with an additional stipend in the 2015-16 school year to cover the full cost of attendance.

“The purpose of this additional stipend is to compensate for the money that student-athletes are not able to earn through part-time jobs due to their demanding schedule,” Manual said in his written testimony.

It was a decision made after a March 2014 interview with former UConn basketball player Shabazz Napier.

“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.”

Lesser said he’ll introduce the legislation in February 2016.

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(8) Archived Comments

posted by: Independent Mind | August 18, 2015  7:03am

Last time I checked, kids went to school to get an education.  If you are good enough to play college sports, GREAT, play till your hearts content.  I think the changes need to come from the NCAA who’s restrictive rules and regulations limit what choices a student-athlete can and can’t make.

posted by: oldtimer | August 18, 2015  9:06am

Another misguided democrat. These athletes receive a scholarship which in most cases entitles them to a free education… Should they choose to attend classes. If allowed to unionize, will this obligate them to a four year commitment or will they be allowed to leave early for the pros? And why stop at the college level? How about high school athletes being allowed to unionize? They too sell tickets and bring in revenue for the school. Oh, one last comment… Napier is lying. No student-athlete goes to bed hungry! I can tell you from experience that they have the best of everything when it comes to their diet…

posted by: art vandelay | August 18, 2015  9:29am

art vandelay

I’m dead set against unions, but in this case I have to agree w/Lori Pelletier.  The NCAA & Universities make millions from their Football & Basketball programs.  In essence the NFL & NBA have free farm systems while MLB pays for theirs.  Let’s face facts.  Many football & basketball players do not attend college for an education. Many exceptional players are “one and done” while less talented players finish their degrees.

Maybe it’s time for the NBA & NFL pay their “fair share” (I hate using that term) and subsidize the athletic programs and players.  Hopefully regular students can reap the benefits in lower tuition costs.

The NCAA’s argument that students receive a free education in return for their on field performance no longer holds water.  College basketball & football has changed dramatically with endorsements & TV coverage that bring in millions for the schools.

posted by: Mike B | August 18, 2015  1:24pm

Leave it to a misguided dem to saddle a expensive education system with the nightmare of a potential union. By law passed by a Dem controlled Congress Tile 9 is the Law. B y that legislation many College sorts programs are required in the act of fairness to be offered that only cost money bring in no revenues just costs to the university. One should know all the facts before one runs off trying to push legislation to solve a problem that really does not exist. After all Conn is such a low cost state to live in and all those folks running out just don’t understand how important this kind of bull really is to anyone.

posted by: SocialButterfly | August 18, 2015  3:53pm

The cost of the athletic programs at UCONN have sky-rocketed since they brought in Warde Manual. Don’t see any improvement to bear his costly acquisition.

posted by: robn | August 19, 2015  4:27pm

As usual Ms. Pelletier fails to recognize that pursuit of college athletics, just like pursuit of a career, is elective, not coerced. Participation does not entitle one to extort a portion of profits with the threat of a shut down.

posted by: justsayin | August 20, 2015  6:33am

Pellets is blind to pronoun and wil do anything to promote even shamelessly bringing students into the mix. The kids choose the schools, for what they think is the best deal or opportunity for them. It is a fair trade off. Remember you can pick just the major sports you have play fair in all sports. No picking winners and loosers something the union and Ms Pellets er dies not understand.

posted by: dano860 | August 20, 2015  9:00am

Let us not forget what more Union members really means to Ms. Pelletier.
More cash for her and all the top officials.
...and of course more cash for Democrats.
Damn the education, cash, more cash!

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