“The LEAD1 Angle” Episode 15: U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (MA-03)

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Written Recap

On Tuesday, LEAD1 Association (“LEAD1”) released its 15th episode of the “LEAD1 Angle with Tom McMillen,” where LEAD1 CEO and President, Tom McMillen, interviewed Rep. Lori Trahan (MA-03) to discuss her proposed College Right to Organize Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to define college athletes as employees.

Trahan’s interest in college sports stems from her being a former Division-I volleyball player, which helped her become the first person in her family to graduate college. Because of her background, Trahan fully understands the sacrifices that college athletes make in terms of balancing athletics and academics. In addition to her collective bargaining legislation, Trahan has sponsored a name, image, and likeness (NIL) bill and is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on college athletes NIL legislation this Thursday.

On the employment issue, many critics of collective bargaining and possibly revenue sharing point out that all non-revenue and low revenue sports, not subject to Title IX, would be cut because of budget pressures, which would irreparably harm our Olympic effort that depends on college athletes for its pipeline of Olympic participants. Employment rights would also possibly subject college athletes to social security and Medicare taxes, federal and state unemployment taxes, worker’s compensation insurance, as well as at will employment status, which could lead to termination for non-performance on the playing field. Employment rights could also further complicate universities balancing academic and athletic priorities.

Trahan’s core response to these possible consequences of employment rights is the following—defining and organizing college athletes as employees would provide them with the necessary tools and voice to best advocate for their futures, and further close gender equity issues within college sports.

More can be found in the interview on the intersection between collective bargaining and Title IX, as well as other possible employment status considerations.