EP49: Unionversity: College Athletics and the Fight for Fair Pay (ft. Edwin Garret, Helena Worthen & Joe Berry)

College athletes are workers, and they deserve to get paid. They put their bodies and futures on the line for the profit of their schools,  without seeing real compensation for their labour. However, things are changing. For instance, a 2021 Supreme Court decision upholding a lower court decision that found the NCAA were being anti-competitive in capitalizing on the name, image, and likeness of their players, while not letting the players do the same. Plus, a November memo from the National Labor Relations Board that noted student-athletes have been misclassified as ‘student athletes’ – they are, in fact, employees with a right to organize. On this episode of Darts and Letters, we go downfield to look at university labour and the battle for union rights.

  • First (@6:40), get to know the College Football Player Association. It’s not a union, but it’s growing a membership base and who knows where that will lead. Ed Garret, a brand ambassador with the group and former cornerback at the University of Mexico, takes us through his time (and injuries) in college football and the working conditions college athletes face on the field, off the field, and in the classroom.
  • Then (@30:39), labour organizing isn’t just for college athletes. And it’s on the rise on campuses across North America. We talk to JP Hornick, bargaining chair with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and Glynis Price, president of the Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association, about their strikes. Then, Helena Worthen and Joe Barry are scholars, organizers, and the co-authors of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the Contingent Faculty Movement in Higher Education. They tell us about successful labour strategies in academia, and why university workers are no different from other workers.


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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. The lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This episode had support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It was part of a wider project looking at neoliberal educational reforms. The lead is Dr. Marc Spooner at the University of Regina and Franklynn Bartol at the University of Toronto. They provided research and advising on this episode.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

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