The Northwestern University litigation shows that this is a simple case in which the employer has
tried – at great length – to make complex by, for example, arguing that the football players are
not employees under the common law and statutes other than the National Labor Relations Act

On the only question that matters – whether the Northwestern football players are employees as
defined by the NLRA – the answer is clear. The law, facts, and policy amply support a finding
that all of the players on the team are employees, as defined by the National Labor Relations Act
(NLRA), without regard to whether they receive athletic scholarships or not and whether they are
walk-ons on or not. Walk-ons and players who do or do not get scholarships but who work out
with the team and provide valuable support for the team during practice and games are also
employees under the NLRA.

The default position of the National Labor Relations Act – and its policies – on the definition of
who is an employee is clearly for employee status. A party seeking to exclude an employee from
the coverage of the National Labor Relations Act bears the burden of demonstrating a
justification for the exclusion. In other words, it is – the Employer's burden in this case to prove
that the Northwest University football players were not employees under § 2(3) of the NLRA.
This, the employer has failed to do.

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July 23, 2014 By Ellen Dannin

Experience has shown that the anti-tax movement is a luxury we cannot afford. Its clout and legislators' fear of that clout means that taxes cannot be raised - even to keep pace with inflation. The result is crumbling infrastructure and no way to build new or repair what exists.

As a result, we are left without money to maintain, repair and build our roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure - not to mention other needs that we are unable to meet. We are told that the private sector can fill these needs, but, as it turns out, privatized infrastructure depends on public money - and a lot of it.

How much public versus private money is invested in infrastructure privatization? At the March 5, 2014, congressional hearing called Overview of Public-Private Partnerships in Highway and Transit Projects, witnesses who are fans of privatization testified that the private "partners" in PPPs invest as little as 3 percent to 20 percent - leaving the public to fill the 80-97 percent gap in funding.

Copyright Reprinted with permission.

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One in seven Americans - that is 46.5 million of us - live in poverty. And in the wake of the Great Recession, there is more to poverty today than just a bad economy. We have an increasingly unequal society in which the top 1% holds 40% of the wealth. According to a Global Post study, the United States leads the trend toward greater inequality which is rising faster - and already greater - here than in nearly all other developed countries.

Until the Reagan Administration, the minimum wage was set at a level that allowed one wage earner to support a family. The minimum wage has never been required to keep up with inflation nor been benchmarked to ensure that a full-time worker's wages can keep a family above the poverty line. As a result, many workers' families have now become destitute.

Why has this happened? The causes of poverty are complex, but one important factor is the decline in union membership, starting in the 1980s, which has led to a decline in union bargaining power.

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The news is full of bad news about unions these days. Unions are blamed for holding up the bailout of GM and Chrysler with foot-dragging over wages and benefits. Teachers' unions are accused of protecting bad teachers and standing in the way of providing good education. Public employees are supposed to be overpaid and lazy. The bottom line seems to be that, at best, unions are dinosaurs and about to go extinct. At worst, they are a drag on our economy.

So, why have unions? Because the persistent problem of unlimited corporate power requires an effective counterbalance.

The need for such a counterbalance is clear. We saw the effect of increasing corporate power in the 2010 elections. We see it in virtually every law considered by Congress and state legislatures. And we saw it in the period leading up to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. As corporations grow mightier, they are able to amass even greater power. Then, just as now, Supreme Court decisions made corporations unaccountable to their societies by removing limits on corrupting and destructive power wielded by corporations.

Among other actions Congress took to limit irresponsible corporate power was to enact the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. Congress wanted to give unions power to act as a counterbalance to corporate power.

Copyright Reprinted with permission.




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January 29, 2014 By Ellen Dannin