Senate Democrats Introduce Bill Calling College Athletes ‘Employees’

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders(I-VT) speaks to the press after loosing much of super Tuesday to US Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden the previous night, in Burlington, Vermont on March 11, 2020. - Senator Bernie Senator said March 11, 2020 he would take …

Democrats in the Senate introduced a bill that would allow college athletes to be considered an “employee,” allowing them to receive compensation.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored a bill in the Senate called College Athlete Right To Organize Act. If the bill passes and becomes law, it would define “any college athlete as an employee if they receive direct compensation.” Having an impact on the way schools give scholarship money to players.

The bill would be a challenge to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which has had a long “operating principle of amateurism that has allowed it to maintain control over college sports for decades,” CBS Sports reported.

If passed, the report added, the bill would prevent athletes from getting scholarships that “keep an athlete from collectively bargaining for their rights.” If passed, scholarships would be defined “as compensation that would give athletes the right to collectively organize and have a say in their working conditions.” Democrats in the House of Representatives also introduced companion legislation.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Andy Levin (D-MI), and Lori Trahan (D-MA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

In a press release by Murphy, he said, “Amending the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to define any college athlete as an employee of their college if they receive direct compensation from their college, whether in the form of grant-in-aid or other forms of compensation…”

The statement added that “such compensation requires participation in intercollegiate sports, which clarifies athletes’ employment status and right to collectively bargain.”

CBS Sports reported the NCAA response to the bill being introduced:

“College athletes are students and not employees of their college or university. This bill would directly undercut the purpose of college: earning a degree. The NCAA and its member schools support student-athletes through scholarships — many of which cover their full cost of education debt free — and numerous other benefits. NCAA members also are committed to modernizing name, image and likeness rules so student-athletes can benefit from those opportunities but not become employees of their school. We will continue to work with members of Congress to focus on issues that align with our priorities. But turning student-athletes into union employees is not the answer.

“Big time college sports hasn’t been ‘amateur’ for a long time,” Murphy and Sanders said in a statement, “and the NCAA has long denied its players economic and bargaining rights while treating them like commodities. … It’s a civil rights issue, and a matter of basic fairness.”


CBS Sports reported that Murphy introduced the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act earlier this year, giving athletes their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Rights.



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