Rep. Lee Introduces the College Athletes Right to Organize Act with ​​Rep. Bowman, Senators Sanders, Murphy 

Dec 07, 2023
Press

**For Immediate Release**

Emilia.Rowland@Mail.house.gov

Rep. Lee Introduces the College Athletes Right to Organize Act with ​​Rep. Bowman, Senators Sanders, Murphy 

(Washington, DC) –  Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12) joined Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) in introducing the College Athletes Right to Organize Act, to provide collective bargaining rights for college athletes.

“Pittsburgh is a union town and College athletes in Western PA – who help stimulate our local economy  while bringing money and joy back to our communities – deserve the right to form a union. There’s no question that college athletes are workers – especially considering that their training and game day schedules make it impossible to have another job.” said Rep. Summer Lee  (PA-12). “From Pitt, Duquesne, and CMU to my own alma mater Penn State, our College athletes spend countless hours honing their craft to represent their universities. But for far too long, the NCAA has denied athletes basic economic and bargaining rights, while weaponizing their ‘amateur’ status to treat them as commodities. I’m proud to help introduce this legislation and to fight to  give our college athletes the power to unionize and collectively bargain for fair compensation and dignity on the job.”

The legislation is newly endorsed by the major professional players associations including the Major League Baseball Players Association, Major League Soccer Players Association, National Basketball Players Association, National Football League Players Association, National Hockey League Players Association, and United Soccer League Players Association. Actors’ Equity Association, American Association of University Professors, AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers National Employment Law Project, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and United Steelworkers (USW) also endorsed the bill.

The greater Pittsburgh area has several universities with world-class athletics departments, including University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and lower division schools like Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, Chatham University, and more. 

The College Athlete Right to Organize Act would help college athletes in Western Pennsylvania and across the country ensure can organize and collectively bargain to demand the NCAA and its members treat them fairly by: 

  • 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 via grant-in-aid or other forms of compensation, and that compensation requires participation in intercollegiate sports. 
  • Amending the NLRA to define public colleges, alongside private institutions, as employers within the context of intercollegiate sports, allowing athletes to collectively bargain at any college.
  • Facilitating multiemployer bargaining units for college athletes by directing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to consider the colleges within an athletic conference as part of a bargaining unit with which college athletes can negotiate.
  • Asserting the NLRB’s jurisdiction over all institutions of higher education within the context of intercollegiate athletics and on all collective bargaining and representation matters as well as labor disputes. 
  • Prohibiting any agreements, such as scholarship agreements, which waive the right of athletes to collectively bargain. 
  • Ensuring the current tax status of college athletes’ scholarships and other benefits does not change due to their employment status, nor does it affect their eligibility for financial aid

“College athletes are workers, period. They are skilled and disciplined young people who deserve so much more than to be treated as sources of revenue by the colleges and universities they attend,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16). Their lack of collective bargaining rights, pay, and ownership of their own image is a labor and civil rights issue that requires our immediate action. The College Athlete Right to Organize Act is the first step in bringing college sports into the 21st century by ensuring college athletes have the right to collectively bargain across teams and conferences, and that they are able to advocate for rights, protections, and compensation commensurate with the value they undeniably provide. College athletics are a billion dollar industry, and it’s time to treat those who make it run with the respect, rights, and pay they deserve.”

“All the breathless attention on this weekend’s College Football Playoff selection is a reminder that college sports are anything but amateur,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). “There is no college sports industry and its $16 billion in annual revenues without the athletes’ labor. It’s past time they get a seat at the negotiating table. Instead of fighting athletes’ rights in courts and spending millions on lobbying Congress, the NCAA and its members should start negotiating directly with players on revenue-sharing, health and safety protections, and more. This legislation would make it easier for the athletes to realize their power, form unions, and start to collectively bargain.”


“We cannot wait for the NCAA to share its billions with the workers who create it,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). “And those workers are college athletes. The College Athlete Right to Organize Act is a step in the right direction to giving these workers the rights and protections that they deserve.”

“College athletes put their lives and well-being on the line to make their schools and the NCAA billions of dollars each year – of course they should be able to unionize and make sure they’re paid their fair share of that pot,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “The College Athlete Right to Organize Act is a common sense next step to protect the young workers powering this industry and give them the rights they deserve.”


Since taking office in January, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $870 millionbrought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 1,380 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

Recent Posts


Apr 11, 2024
Press

Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall

For Immediate Release  April 11, 2024  Contact  Natalie Adams (Casey): 202-228-3789 Charlie Hills (Fetterman): 202-228-6099  Emilia Rowland (Lee): 330-212-2065   Zoe Bluffstone (Deluzio): 771-444-0316  Amidst Record Rainfall Lee, Deluzio, Casey, Fetterman Secure $6.6 Million for Pittsburgh’s Parkway East Floodwall Additional funding follows recent flooding that closed the critical route The Members secured $142.34 million for the […]



Apr 9, 2024
Press

Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development PITTSBURGH, PA — Today, Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a letter with 35 colleagues to […]



Mar 28, 2024
Press

Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation 

For Immediate Release  Emilia Rowland, Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov Summer Lee Visits Abandoned Well in Murrysville with PA DEP, Highlighting Infrastructure Law Funding and her Bipartisan Abandoned Wells Legislation  Lee’s bill was passed through the Science, Space, and Technology Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan basis and awaits a vote by the full House  Pittsburgh, PA — Today, Congresswoman  […]