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Thread: College Football Players Attempting to Unionize

  1. College Football Players Attempting to Unionize



    ESPN's Outside the Lines has posted a very interesting article regarding the possible unionization of Northwestern University football players.

    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter reached out to the National College Players Association last spring to ask for help in giving athletes representation in their effort to improve the conditions under which they play NCAA sports.
    If you prefer a condensed version of the story, try this (from PFT): http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com...ry/rumor-mill/

    I don't know what else to say except that I fully agree with Mike Florio. This is way overdue (at least at the major universities where football brings in huge sums of money).
    Workin' on mysteries without any clues

  2. #2
       
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    Cool.

    Now the issue will be fought again. Are the players volunteers or employees, under the law? And can you unionize a volunteer organization?

    The second question may be a way to avoid tryiing to overturn 50 year old court rulings that players aren't employees. Whether a group of volunteers can unionize has been on the table in another industry for years...Volunteer Firemen. Normal Fire Departments are usually unionized. Whether volunteer fire depts can has been flip flopping around for years. First, the term "volunteer fire dept" is a loose term. Many cities used firemen that get a dollar amount for every time they are called out. Yet these depts are called "Volunteer". There are other depts where no per call payment is made, but to intice people to volunteer a stipend is paid (sound familier?). These depts have tried to unionize example here

    http://emmaus.patch.com/groups/polic...ps-to-unionize

    Which means there should be a lot of precedents in lower courts and the NLRB which were fought by little lawyers. So it may be a lot of precedent got set that volunteers CAN unionize. As reporting on this ramps up I will be interested to see the articles start to cite precedents (hopefully they won't just gloss over things at TMZ-level reporting.)

    Here we go.....

  3. #3
       
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    That's an interesting topic, darvon.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act says this:

    Many volunteers receive indirect compensation that the government doesn’t count as “compensation,” such as free parking. Discounts at the cafeteria would also fall into the category of compensation that is provided more for the convenience of the nonprofit (to encourage volunteers to volunteer) than as “compensation” for the volunteer.

    However, other types of indirect compensation—such as a free membership to the Y’s fitness center provided to volunteer instructors—has a real dollar value and may be established by the nonprofit as a “quid pro quo” for volunteering, and thus can be considered compensation.

    Some factors that may tip the balance between volunteer and employee include:

    * Is the worker motivated by a personal civic, humanitarian, charitable, religious or public-service motive?
    * Are the services performed typically associated with volunteer work?
    * Are the services provided different from those typically performed by paid workers and are the hours of service less than full time?
    * How much control does the nonprofit exert over the volunteer while she or he is performing services?
    * Does the volunteer typically arrange his or her own schedule to provide services when it is convenient for the volunteer?
    If the above is really the legal standard, I cannot see how college football players can be classified as volunteers.

    The compensation that players currently get -- education, room, board -- unquestionably has real dollar value. The players aren't motivated by civic duty. Playing football is not thought of as volunteer work. The work is identical to the work for which others are paid (NFL, CFL.) The hours are full time. The school exerts total control when the individual is performing services. And the individual does not schedule his own time.

    Unionizing would transform college sports. The players would be paid, but as mike and others constantly preach, it would have a ripple effect in athletic departments. It may well mean that a tennis player doesn't get a scholarship. But it would eliminate the inequity of a football player's labor paying for the tennis player's education.

    Seems to me the main problem is as it has always been: how do you recruit and maintain union members from a work force which turns over 100% every 5-6 years?
    Non-performing performance artist

  4. Does anyone think there is any chance that college football would privatize?

    Would it be legal for the football team to "technically privatize" and then pay the school some ridiculous sum for use of the stadium, facilities, educations and housing for its players, name & nickname? For instance, for sake of argument, let's say Texas Longhorns football brings in $100 million per year.

    $20 million annual stadium rent
    $20 million annual fee for naming rights
    $6 million tuition, room & board
    $5 million player health care
    $20 million for use of training facilities

    $29 million left to the team to pay coaches, travel expenses, etc.

    I'm obviously spitballing the numbers, but would some version of this be remotely legal?

    And if it is legal, could the football team prepay for a players education where he would then be able to avail himself of it after his playing days are over? If he earns something in a certain excess of the scholarship's value as a professional football player, the scholarship could the elect to rescind the scholarship and offer it as a shcolarship donated by the football team (thus giving tax breaks)?

    Then we would need union football and non-union football with the best [players being recruited to union schools and the rest going to the non-union universities.

    I think about these things...
    Workin' on mysteries without any clues

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    Does anyone think there is any chance that college football would privatize?

    Would it be legal for the football team to "technically privatize" and then pay the school some ridiculous sum for use of the stadium, facilities, educations and housing for its players, name & nickname? For instance, for sake of argument, let's say Texas Longhorns football brings in $100 million per year.

    $20 million annual stadium rent
    $20 million annual fee for naming rights
    $6 million tuition, room & board
    $5 million player health care
    $20 million for use of training facilities

    $29 million left to the team to pay coaches, travel expenses, etc.

    I'm obviously spitballing the numbers, but would some version of this be remotely legal?


    A private corp could rent a public university building, could license name and logos of the team. Nothing wrong there.

    And if it is legal, could the football team prepay for a players education where he would then be able to avail himself of it after his playing days are over? If he earns something in a certain excess of the scholarship's value as a professional football player, the scholarship could the elect to rescind the scholarship and offer it as a shcolarship donated by the football team (thus giving tax breaks)?


    Sure. But it is not a good business. It's a great business for colleges, because it is a alumni donation marketing tool. It also, for a few schools, spin enough money to pay for other NCAA sports. But that's with free labor, 100 years of tradition, a link with alumni base for tickets, no cost marketing rights for all merchandising, including player numbers, no labor law, no osha, no workman's comp, and a bevy of young ladies in recruiting.

    Without those, it's a minor league team. Like the Lansing Lugnuts. Whoopie do. Would the TV dollars follow? Would the TV dollars stay over the next 25 years given the pressure on ESPNs usage fees and a la carte regulations looming? Not so much...




    Then we would need union football and non-union football with the best [players being recruited to union schools and the rest going to the non-union universities.

    I think about these things...

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    Let's take the test for college football

    * Is the worker motivated by a personal civic, humanitarian, charitable, religious or public-service motive?
    NO. I want to go to the NFL and I want to date the school's cheerleaders.

    * Are the services performed typically associated with volunteer work?
    NO. The services performed are typical of professionals when adult.

    * Are the services provided different from those typically performed by paid workers and are the hours of service less than full time?
    NO/YES* The services are exaactly the same as NFL. NCAA does maintain rules on limited hours, which don't include weight training and rehab and are still routinely violated.


    * How much control does the nonprofit exert over the volunteer while she or he is performing services?
    DRACONIAN? It controls all other income, and sometimes relatives income. WAAAY over professional standards.

    * Does the volunteer typically arrange his or her own schedule to provide services when it is convenient for the volunteer?
    NO. Saturday is Saturday.


    Lets see 5 sections (10 pts each) with 1 having 2 parts (5 pts each).

    We scored a 2.5 out of 50. Did we pass?

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    It's definitely a job. The issue is organizing a young and churning work pool. Unless the process somehow becomes institutionalized, I'm not sure how a union convinces 18-year olds to sign up.
    Non-performing performance artist

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    If the above is really the legal standard, I cannot see how college football players can be classified as volunteers.

    The compensation that players currently get -- education, room, board -- unquestionably has real dollar value. The players aren't motivated by civic duty. Playing football is not thought of as volunteer work. The work is identical to the work for which others are paid (NFL, CFL.) The hours are full time. The school exerts total control when the individual is performing services. And the individual does not schedule his own time.

    Unionizing would transform college sports. The players would be paid, but as mike and others constantly preach, it would have a ripple effect in athletic departments. It may well mean that a tennis player doesn't get a scholarship. But it would eliminate the inequity of a football player's labor paying for the tennis player's education.
    The big issue is that you can say the exact same thing about the band. The difference is the NCAA rules. Giving away individual marketing rights, as opposed to performance rights is one big difference. The NCAA amateurism rules and the enforcement of "eligibility" by the schools is a big difference. There is also a huge difference in a Music Scholarship, which is guaranteed 4 year ride, with only conditions of reasonable grades and good conduct AND no requirement to perform in public, although the degree track might require it. An athletic scholarship is 1 year, with participation clauses based on an activity which is skew to the degree track.

    But a band student on scholee, or a drama student, do look alot like a qb, except for the NCAA rules and the schools acceptance and enforcement of them, plus the draconian marketing rights contract.

    And there is one more HUGE obstacle to employment classification. What is the compensation for the QB? Mostly its the scholarship. But if a scholarship makes a barter/employment relationship, does the Scholarship become income? There are special exceptions for scholarships to not count as incojme, which would be taxed as a gift. Anything that jostles the "no tax" status of scholarships would be looked at darkly by Judges with kids on a scholee, Or judges who are alumni who worry that their school's scholarship fund will be slashed if the school has to pay gift tax, or force students to pay it.

    Believe me that argument will be thrown at the public when it gets down and dirty. As will the Title IX argument and the "If we don't use free labor in football, we will have to cut everything else."
    Last edited by darvon; 01-29-2014 at 06:33 PM.

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    The thing that separates the football team from the band is that one activity produces massive revenue, the other does not. Nobody negotiates billion dollar deals with ESPN for the band. I would think that that is a factor.
    Non-performing performance artist

  10. #10
       
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    Quote Originally Posted by darvon View Post
    Anything that jostles the "no tax" status of scholarships would be looked at darkly by Judges with kids on a scholee, Or judges who are alumni who worry that their school's scholarship fund will be slashed if the school has to pay gift tax, or force students to pay it.
    That, I think, is a huge issue. Many of the people who would pass judgment on this issue have a vested interested in propagating it, since there's a good chance they have a degree from a university which plays either football or basketball at a revenue-producing level.
    Non-performing performance artist

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