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Committee Continues Oversight of Effort to Unionize Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders today joined a bicameral amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as it considers whether to treat scholarship student athletes as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. The legal brief argues that college athletes are not employees under the law and treating student athletes as employees is unworkable:

As a matter of both national labor and educational policy, the Congressional Committee Members urge the Board to find that grant-in-aid scholarship football players are not employees… The profound and inherent differences between the student-university and employee-employer relationship makes employee status unworkable both as a matter of law and in practice. 

The amicus was signed by the following House and Senate leaders:

  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN);
  • Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC);
  • Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN); 
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA); and 
  • Primary Health and Aging Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC).

The amicus brief follows a letter Chairman Kline sent to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert requesting information on the organization’s effort to address various challenges affecting student athletes. As Chairman Kline noted:

[At a recent committee hearing] a university president, athletic director, and former scholarship football student athlete made clear that unionization would hurt rather than help student athletes. However, witnesses raised a number of legitimate concerns surrounding college athletics that merit careful consideration…

The committee understands the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is taking steps to address these and other issues to improve college athletes’ education and experience. To further inform the committee, please identify all steps taken by the NCAA to address these issues and improve the collegiate experience of student athletes.

Background: On March 26, a NLRB regional director issued an unprecedented decision that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are “employees” under federal labor law. On April 25, Northwestern University football players voted on whether to unionize and the ballots from the election are impounded pending review by the full board. The committee held a hearing on May 8 to examine the impact of the NLRB’s decision on student athletes and their pursuit of higher education. Members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and the troubling consequences of treating these students as “employees” under federal labor law.

To read the amicus, click here.

To read Chairman Kline’s letter to the NCAA, click here.

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The California Supreme Court’s Iskanian Opinion: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 4:18pm
Guest Commentary by Kirk C. Jenkins, Sedgwick LLP* On June 26, 2014, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles LLC. The decision was something of a mixed bag for the defense bar: two major steps forward in the California Supreme Court’s class action jurisprudence, but one step […]
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Rockefeller Statement on FTC Action Against T-Mobile

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today released the following statement after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it filed a complaint against wireless phone service provider T-Mobile USA, Inc., which alleges that the company made millions of dollars by placing unauthorized charges on consumers’ phone bills.  

“I am deeply disturbed by the FTC’s allegations that T-Mobile allowed millions of dollars in unauthorized charges to be cr...

New York Court of Appeals Upholds Local Ordinances Restricting Hydraulic Fracturing

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:18pm
Featured Expert Column – Environmental Law and Policy by Samuel B. Boxerman, Sidley Austin LLP with Joel F. Visser, Sidley Austin LLP *Editor’s note: Washington Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of the Petitioners in the case discussed below. Across the country, companies are using hydraulic fracturing techniques to develop shale oil and gas […]
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Committee Leaders Issue Joint Statement in Response to PBGC Financial Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Senior Democrat John Tierney (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its latest financial projections report:

The latest PBGC report confirms in stark detail the significant challenges confronting the multiemployer pension system. The systemic crisis we face threatens countless workers, employers, and retirees, and could ultimately harm American taxpayers, as well. We have an obligation to advance reforms that will modernize the system, encourage employer participation, protect taxpayers, and offer new tools to help rescue troubled plans. We continue to work together to find common ground and a responsible legislative solution. The American people deserve nothing less.

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