Friday, January 9, 2015
Michigan: Public University Student-Athletes are Not Public Employees
As student football players at Northwestern University press forward with their case at the National Labor Relations Board, the Michigan legislature has amended its statute governing public-employee collective bargaining to exclude student athletes at Michigan’s public universities. The amendment, now in effect, added the underlined text:
An individual serving as a graduate student research assistant or in an equivalent position, and a student participating in intercollegiate athletics on behalf of a public university in this state, or any individual whose position does not have sufficient indicia of an employer-employee relationship using the 20-factor test announced by the internal revenue service of the United States department of treasury in revenue ruling 87-41, 1987-1 C.B. 296 is not a public employee entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under this act.
Michigan Complied Laws 423.201(1)(e)(iii). (Although the text of this provision also excludes graduate student research assistants, a federal district court declared that exclusion to violate article IV, section 24, of the Michigan Constitution. Toth v. Callaghan, 995 F. Supp. 2d 774 (E.D. Mich. 2014).)
What are they worried about? Will collective bargaining destroy the i̶n̶d̶u̶s̶t̶r̶y̶ amateur athletics experience? It will be interesting to see how the NLRB handles this. Having just expanded opportunities for high educated and relatively well paid faculty to collectively bargain, it would be depressingly sad for it to deny those same rights to these students who need them so much more.
Posted by: Joe Mastrosimone | Jan 9, 2015 10:24:06 AM