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Committee Head Slams NCAA Unionization Memo From Labor Board Counsel

Committee Head Slams NCAA Unionization Memo From Labor Board Counsel

By Sean Higgins

The chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee is calling on Richard Griffin, the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, to "abandon his partisan agenda or step down immediately." 

The catalyst was a Jan. 31 memo from Griffin that said NCAA football players at private colleges and universities are employees under the National Labor Relations Act and therefore entitled to unionize. 

The determination could have a major impact on college sports where the athletes have been long seen as students and therefore not eligible to unionize. Foxx said the only reason for the memo is to help unions seeking to organize the athletes.

"This partisan memorandum puts the interests of union leaders over America's students, and it has the potential to create significant confusion at college campuses across the nation. It's an affront to hard-working Americans for Griffin to double down on his extreme, Big Labor agenda, especially at a time when a new president is entitled to move the NLRB in a new direction," Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx said in a joint statement with Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., who is chairman of the labor subcommittee.

"Griffin should respect the will of the American people and rescind this memorandum immediately. If he is unwilling to set aside his extreme and partisan agenda, then he should step aside as general counsel," Foxx and Walberg added.

The five-member labor board is a quasi-independent federal agency that enforces the National Labor Rights Act. Though his title implies he is the board's top lawyer, Griffin's function is closer to that of a chief executive officer. He runs the day-to-day operations of the board and can initiate investigations and rulemakings on his own. Before serving on the board, Griffin was the top lawyer for the International Union of Operating Engineers. He also worked as an attorney for the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation.

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