College Football Players Looking to Unionize: Lester Munson of ESPN reports football players at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL are attempting to form a labor union. This comes on the heels of a strike by football players at Grambling University several months ago. The players refused to take the field against Jackson State in protest against unsafe training conditions.
The Northwestern players face significant obstacles, the most significant of which is the generally accepted tenet that college athletes are not employees and are thus not under the umbrella of the National Labor Relations Act.
"They are paying tuition to attend the university, and they are primarily students," said Zev Eigen, a professor of labor law at Northwestern. "It will be very difficult for them to convince anyone that they are employees."
The next step for the players is arguing in front of a National Labor Relations Board hearing officer in Chicago. If they lose, which is likely, they may appeal to the Board in Washington. We will be watching this issue closely and will make sure to keep you informed of any updates.
UPMC Nurses Plan to Strike: William Kibler of the Altoona Mirror reports that nurses at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Altoona, PA are set to hold a 24-hour strike on February 11, which is believed to be the first-ever labor strike by any group of employees at a UPMC facility. The nurses, represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), have alleged that UPMC has failed to bargain in good faith during talks over a new labor contract for the unit. The main sticking points between the parties are staffing levels, pensions, and health insurance contributions.
Arbitrator Slams Union With Huge Fine: Kevin Rector of the Baltimore Sun writes that a federal arbitrator has ordered the International Longshoremen’s Association to pay almost $4 million after an October labor strike crippled commerce at the Port of Baltimore. The damage estimate only takes into account the amount of money lost by port employees, but does not factor in losses by other businesses that rely on the port for work. A spokesperson for the union said that it was evaluating its appeal options.