Dartmouth men’s basketball votes in favor of joining labor union: 'Stuck in the past'

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The Dartmouth men’s basketball team has taken a historic first step in challenging the norms of college athletics, voting Tuesday to unionize. 

The team voted 13-2 to join Service Employees International Union Local 560, which already represents some of the school’s employees, in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

Dartmouth players sit on the team bench

Romeo Myrthil #20 (C) of the Dartmouth Big Green watches as his team play against Columbia Lions in their NCAA men’s basketball game on February 16, 2024 in New York City. After last week’s National Labor Relations Board ruling that Dartmouth’s men’s basketball players are employees of the school, the team members will vote next month on whether to create the first labor union for NCAA athletes.  (Adam Gray/Getty Images)

“Today is a big day for our team,” Dartmouth juniors Cade Haskins and Romeo Myrthil said, via The Associated Press. 


“We stuck together all season and won this election. It is self-evident that we, as students, can also be both campus workers and union members. Dartmouth seems to be stuck in the past. It’s time for the age of amateurism to end.”

The vote to unionize was met with immediate pushback from the school, which quickly filed an appeal to the NLRB with hopes of overturning a decision last month that set the grounds for this week’s vote. 

“For Ivy League students who are varsity athletes, academics are of primary importance, and athletic pursuit is part of the educational experience,” the school said in a statement. 

Dartmouth head coach David McLaughlin looks on

Dartmouth Big Green head coach David McLaughlin looks on during the college basketball game between the Dartmouth Big Green and the Harvard Crimson on February 10, 2024, at Lavietes Pavilion in Allston, MA.  (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


“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.”

Some have praised the vote, including Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark who released a statement praising the team’s efforts. 

“The MLBPA applauds the Dartmouth men’s basketball players for their courage and leadership in the movement to establish and advance the rights of college athletes,” Clark said. 

“By voting to unionize, these athletes have an unprecedented seat at the table and a powerful voice with which to negotiate for rights and benefits that have been ignored for far too long.” 

Dartmouth players huddle together

Dartmouth Big Green players huddle as a team before the college basketball game between the Dartmouth Big Green and the Harvard Crimson on February 10, 2024, at Lavietes Pavilion in Allston, MA.  (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


This is just the latest in the ever-evolving landscape of college athletes. If successful, Dartmouth men’s basketball would be the first program in NCAA history to unionize. 

Dartmouth had filed a motion to delay this week’s vote unsuccessfully. Now, both sides will have until March 12 to file an objection over the election procedures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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