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Dartmouth men’s basketball team votes to unionize, a first in college sports

Dartmouth University’s men’s basketball team voted to unionize on Tuesday, bringing them one step closer to becoming the first collegiate labor union.

The whole team participated in a 13-2 vote in favor of joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 560. The school will have until March 12 to file an objection to the union election with the National Labor Relations Board.

After objections are filed, there will be 10 days for both parties to file a request for an appeal to the decision.

The school has already put out a statement emphasizing the athletes are not employees, so it doesn’t believe this union “is appropriate.”

“For decades, Dartmouth has been proud to build productive relationships with the five unions that are currently part of our campus community. We always negotiate in good faith and have deep respect for our 1,500 union colleagues, including the members of SEIU Local 560,” the school said in its statement.

“In this isolated circumstance, however, the students on the men’s basketball team are not in any way employed by Dartmouth. For Ivy League students who are varsity athletes, academics are of primary importance, and athletic pursuit is part of the educational experience. Classifying these students as employees simply because they play basketball is as unprecedented as it is inaccurate. We, therefore, do not believe unionization is appropriate,” it added.

If the school rejects the union, it could be a years-long court process before a final decision is made.

But this step is one part of the greater changes that have come for college athletics in recent years.

Dozens of states have either put laws in place or are considering ones that allow players to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). Congress has had numerous hearings regarding how NIL would work and how to protect players as more seek to benefit financially from their efforts as student-athletes.

The Hill has reached out to SEIU and the men’s basketball team for comments.

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