Northwestern University football players to receive maternity coverage under Obamacare

posted at 3:31 pm on March 30, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Some weekends, the stories just seem to write themselves. You probably heard by now that the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB), in their infinite wisdom, put the stamp of approval on college football players being treated as full time employees with the right to unionize. Well, I suppose everything comes with a few unintended consequences, as reported by Rare.

Northwestern University became the first school in the nation to deem its football players full-time employees, thus making them eligible for union representation and health insurance benefits including maternity coverage.

On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 13 director Peter Sung Ohr approved the players as employees of the school based on four prerequisite clauses. The team will now have the opportunity to vote on whether they want to unionize and join the College Athletes Players Association, according to Sports Blog Nation.

The kicker is that under Obamacare, the Evanston, Ill.-based team, comprised of more than 50 “employees,” is considered a “large employer” and Northwestern must provide pregnancy-related health care for the all-male team.

This is just fabulous. Of course, we probably should have anticipated that things like this would begin cropping up the moment we decided to take college students and transfer their status to that of employee because the college might be profiting from their activities. Sally Jenkins approaches the question from the 10,000 foot level.

Colter and his peers aren’t laborers due compensation; they are highly privileged scholarship winners who get a lot of valuable stuff for free. This includes first-rate training in the habits of high achievement, cool gear, unlimited academic tutoring for gratis and world-class medical care that no one else has access to. All of which was put into perspective by Michigan State basketball Coach Tim Izzo when he was asked about the ruling at the NCAA tournament East Region semifinals in New York.

“I think sometimes we take rights to a whole new level,” Izzo said. “ . . . I think there’s a process in rights. And you earn that. We always try to speed the process up. I said to my guys, ‘There’s a reason you have to be 35 to be president.’ That’s the way I look at it.”

Other questions remain to be answered. If the field hockey team has less than fifty players, does that make them a small business? If so, they may already qualify for some sort of exemption or mandate delay from Barack Obama. (Or, if not, one should be coming along shortly.) But the field hockey team doesn’t generate any money, so maybe that makes them a non-profit corporation. In that case, the IRS should be checking into their status shortly and denying them a needed classification. And what of the cheerleaders? They’re probably as much a part of the “team” as anyone else out there, and they are almost entirely women. Sure, they might be able to use the Obamacare maternity services a bit more, but now we have to discuss the unpleasant fact that cheerleaders are making WAY less than 77 cents on the dollar compared to the male players when they both reach the NFL.

The NLRB has certainly woven a tangled web here. None of it, however, can possibly explain how the Jets wound up signing Michael Vick. But that’s a subject for Ed and I to debate next September.


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Sure it is stupid if college football students can unionize… on the other hand if it leads to the end of big sports in colleges I am 100% for it.

Warner Todd Huston on March 30, 2014 at 3:33 PM

If they want to become pregnant, they can knock themselves out. Or is that knock themselves up?

22044 on March 30, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Life imitates Monty Python, Life of Brian edition:

Stan: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.
Reg: But you can’t have babies.
Stan: Don’t you oppress me.
Reg: I’m not oppressing you, Stan — you haven’t got a womb. Where’s the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?
(Stan starts crying.)
Judith: Here! I’ve got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the *right* to have babies.

http://www.skepticfiles.org/en001/loretta.htm

rbj on March 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Baby Mamas tremendously excited.

ExpressoBold on March 30, 2014 at 3:46 PM

My wife is 64, if she has maternity coverage after our sign up today I’m going to forward the coverage clause to her boyfriend.

Limerick on March 30, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Northwestern University became the first school in the nation to deem its football players full-time employees

Hooray! Now, under federal and state tax law, they might very well have to pay taxes on the benefits they are receiving as employees of the school. Room and board, tuition, tutoring, travel, clothing, on-site health care, and so on, all have the potential of being taxable perks. These new employees may be required to keep records of all company provided equipment that they use for their “business”.

And what of union dues?

Welcome to “Well, That Bit Me In The @ss World.”

William Teach on March 30, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Nation of Idiots, LilliPutin derides your lilliputian, but foremost he laughs at YOU, you who brung/kept him.

Schadenfreude on March 30, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Oh goodie!!! We can now tax athletic scholarships!!! THAT will help with the national debt!

ladyingray on March 30, 2014 at 3:52 PM

The first ‘c’ section that happens when a player goes down I’m suing everyone.

Limerick on March 30, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I think this ruling is long overdue and should help women finally achieve their rightful place in professional sports.

I mean, the very rules of the game are designed to make it less likely that women can succeed. Now that this moves out of some silly ‘recreational’ activity and into employment law, maybe we can finally get the rules changed so that women will be able to compete equally with men on the gridiron!

No more tackling. Limits on the length of passes we allow. Blocking replaced with freeze tags.

If we can lower the physical requirement for police and firemen to accommodate women why not here? I mean, if being able to carry a 200 lb. person from a burning building is not important, than how much less so is being able to block a 275 lb. defensive lineman?

OBQuiet on March 30, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Judging by Northwestern’s record last year. They may actually need maternity coverage.

Johnny Alamo on March 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Colleges should stop giving out scholarships and just pay the athletes a salary equivalent of yearly tuition. Let’s see how quick some of the kids get kicked out of school because their money went to weed and xbox games and not tuition.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 30, 2014 at 4:02 PM

So the NLRB says the DE’s, QB’s, even the OG’s and DT’s should get free IUD’s? SNAFU comes to mind…

trubble on March 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM

That is, if they bother having a football team next season.

I wouldn’t.

Lance Corvette on March 30, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Won’t this mean they will no longer be able to participate in college football – if they receive payment as employees of the school that means they are no longer amateurs.

katiejane on March 30, 2014 at 4:11 PM

I could NOT care less regarding the top-tier schools (top 40 or 50 in proceeds from big-time sports) or their athletes. As far as I’m concerned they’re both spoiled rotten and fighting over who gets longer/better access to the trough.

What I think is unfortunate is that I can foresee many schools doing away with many/most athletic scholarships, considering the hooks now dug into the institution are going to be quite deep and potentially expensive.

A lot of average, everyday kids who don’t have the scratch to go to some of these schools will lose out, so that the most fortunate can get their snout further in the trough.

Pigs.

xNavigator on March 30, 2014 at 4:12 PM

I’m wondering just how many Universities/Colleges will drop athletic programs altogether.
I tend to think that some of the smaller schools just might not want the extra burden this will place on them. I believe some of the larger schools will be able to absorb the added BS that this will bring but others will just say screw it. The law of unintended consequences and all that serves them right if you ask me.

Their mission is to educate, not turn a profit.

D-fusit on March 30, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Hooray! Now, under federal and state tax law, they might very well have to pay taxes on the benefits they are receiving as employees of the school. Room and board, tuition, tutoring, travel, clothing, on-site health care, and so on, all have the potential of being taxable perks. These new employees may be required to keep records of all company provided equipment that they use for their “business”.

And what of union dues?

Welcome to “Well, That Bit Me In The @ss World.”

William Teach on March 30, 2014 at 3:51 PM

I hope so. In fact, OSHA needs to get involved. Football is too dangerous, we need bureaucratic help in rule writing. And isn’t that football field a potential wetland? You shouldn’t be chasing away the geese. And there needs to be bathroom facilities and locker rooms for both genders. And not just a token locker room for the ladies, they need to be the same size. Transexual football is the wave of the future, if you don’t like it you’re a bigot. I’m thinking bench seating is dangerous too, we need safety belts. And the angle is probably dangerously steep anyway, especially with all the boozing going on, might as well just tear down all the old obsolete stadiums and build new ones. And no more alcohol for you. In fact the whole idea of competitive sport is flawed. There should be a sin tax on keeping score.

Fenris on March 30, 2014 at 4:13 PM

If they get free maternity coverage, do they also get free abortions?

Brock Robamney on March 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Is womb insertion surgery included?

vityas on March 30, 2014 at 4:15 PM

This came up during Sebelius’ testimony before the House. When asked why a 40-year-old man would need maternity coverage, she said, “His mother might.”

When asked about whether the man himself would, she just glared at the GOP rep asking the questions.

Wethal on March 30, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Michigan State basketball Coach Tim Izzo

Must be Tom’s opinionated younger brother.

KS Rex on March 30, 2014 at 4:20 PM

This came up during Sebelius’ testimony before the House. When asked why a 40-year-old man would need maternity coverage, she said, “His mother might.”

I would love to see a link to this.

J.S.K. on March 30, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Northwestern University became the first school in the nation to deem its football players full-time employees, thus making them eligible for union representation and health insurance benefits including maternity coverage.

Northwestern itself didn’t “deem” its football players to be employees. The government made that decision, and Northwestern is seeking to appeal it because the university doesn’t want to classify the football players as employees.

J.S.K. on March 30, 2014 at 4:24 PM

What about the Texas Aggies “12th man”. Surely all those standing (and on rare occasions kissing) in the stands should be employees also.

yetanotherjohn on March 30, 2014 at 4:25 PM

… and world-class medical care that no one else has access to.

Does this mean these guys have to be covered under an Obie-care policy? Will they have to shop around for a doc when their knee implodes?

Kinda delicious, in a schadenfreude-ish sort of way.

marybel on March 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

I think this ruling is long overdue and should help women finally achieve their rightful place in professional sports.

I mean, the very rules of the game are designed to make it less likely that women can succeed. Now that this moves out of some silly ‘recreational’ activity and into employment law, maybe we can finally get the rules changed so that women will be able to compete equally with men on the gridiron!

No more tackling. Limits on the length of passes we allow. Blocking replaced with freeze tags.

If we can lower the physical requirement for police and firemen to accommodate women why not here? I mean, if being able to carry a 200 lb. person from a burning building is not important, than how much less so is being able to block a 275 lb. defensive lineman?

OBQuiet on March 30, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Very good; instead of tackling maybe the female defense can just nag the ball carrier into falling down. Fewer injuries too.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Since a majority of players are not going to school to get a degree anyway, this will enable them, in the more popular sports (e.g. football and basketball), to ask for more and more money. Get ready for college athletes to have agents and several million dollar contracts.

Ruckus_Tom on March 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Simple solution – the men’s sports will be considered as part of the university employee total, while the women’s sports will be considered independent businesses.

As for the Jets, the word that describes the front office starts with a “s” and rhymes with “tupidity”.

Steve Eggleston on March 30, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Speaking of women’s sports, they can kiss the Title IX money good-bye. After all, where do you think the money for every women’s sport (yes, even including Wisconsin women’s hockey and Tennessee’s women’s basketball) comes from? Hint – the gate revenue doesn’t cover the cost.

Steve Eggleston on March 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Typical of the socialists’ one size fits all attitude.

crankyoldlady on March 30, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Well maybe it’s appropriate that the Big 10 unionize–since they lost 7 out of 9 bowl games, they play like General Motors employees anyway-chronically underachieving. The old “BIG 10 CUPCAKES” joke. You make them by putting them in a bowl and beating them for three hours.

The only good points about this unionization are 1 This silly ploy makes the unions, if that is possible,look even more ludicrous than they already are–and at a time when unions are on the ropes anyway.2 It could, as some here have suggested, destroy all this “student athlete” BS-to this extent, at least, the unions got it right (these players are no more “students” than the plumbers the school hires to fix the toilets) and, consequently diminish all big-time college sports. 3 It will curb the totally unreasonable power the NCAA has garnered for itself in recent years.

MaiDee on March 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Since they are now employees, is Social Security and Medicare now being withheld from their scholarships?

ss396 on March 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM

OT – Stupid man says stupid things.

22044 on March 30, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Any woman who has given birth and had a boyfriend or husband who was able to take a leave to help her out will appreciate and cherish the wonderful idea that is male maternity leave.

Most people don’t leave near their families anymore, so having the father of the baby being able to help out while your vagina recoups from a world of hurt, is welcome.

And enough already with the bipolar attitude about families I see on this site. Blog a about abortion: Babis are so innocent, they must live the moment a sperm touches an egg whether the woman can barely feed herself or not

Blog b about food stamp: those welfare queens sucking food stamp. We must cut food stamp. Get rid of food stamp. Um what about that baby everyone not too long insisted Had to be born. Anyone care to help feed it with taxes.

Blog c about maternity leave for men: well that is ridiculous idea. We all know women are super being in need of no help to take care of children after giving birth. Obama is wuzzifying America.

You should never be so partisan that no idea no matter how helpful to society is taken down because it came from the other party. Given Fathers time to help out their family and wives is a good idea no matter where it comes from.

coolrepublica on March 30, 2014 at 5:13 PM

The ruling is idiotic. As have been virtually all NLRB rulings since Obama has been able to stack all the panels.

The fact is that 99% of football scholarship players will never play pro ball at any level. They are student-athletes.

Now, if these knuckleheads want to “unionize,” do they realize that will entail all their scholarship perqs becoming taxable income? And that their scholarships will be yanked quicker for lack of production if they must be insured against injury?

Do the star players realize that under “union rules” they wouldn’t get any more than the benchwarmers?

IF it isn’t reversed, the greatest harm will be done to the great majority of college football players who will lose ground compared to the status quo. The only possible alternative is to force most schools out of Division I football, leaving the ones that are already paying their star players, albeit under the table.

Adjoran on March 30, 2014 at 5:16 PM

It’s all up to the younger generation, and they are so screwed up in the head that I no longer have any hope for us. Just chuck the whole forefathers/Declaration/American revolution krap, because that’s all it is anymore.

HiJack on March 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

The maternity coverage is to help out the pool. Men are not going to give birth, but they can help pay for the women that do. It may sounds stupid, and it is, but if woman were to be charged more for healthcare because their risk for higher payout is higher, a lot of women would opt not to get pregnant. As someone who had to pay, for my infant son healthcare premium that had to have matter tiny, and mental health, I understand how unfair it feels to men, but as a woman I understand the necessity.

coolrepublica on March 30, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Miss the field goal attempt on Saturday and you are fired on Monday. Hey, the kicker is an employee and should bear the burden of possible lost revenues from his “mistake”.

HonestLib on March 30, 2014 at 5:23 PM

The NLRB has certainly woven a tangled web here. None of it, however, can possibly explain how the Jets wound up signing Michael Vick. But that’s a subject for Ed and I to debate next September.

NLRB just being forward thinking and preparing for the day that colleges and universities will have to field football teams that reflect gender and racial diversity just like any other part of their employment practices.

Happy Nomad on March 30, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Northwestern did not agree to anything.

Northwestern issued a statement shortly after the ruling saying it would appeal to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10677763/northwestern-wildcats-football-players-win-bid-unionize

The current decision is by a NLRB Regional Director. Northwestern has the right to appeal that decision to the full NLRB.

slp on March 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM

The maternity coverage is to help out the pool. Men are not going to give birth, but they can help pay for the women that do. It may sounds stupid, and it is, but if woman were to be charged more for healthcare because their risk for higher payout is higher, a lot of women would opt not to get pregnant. As someone who had to pay, for my infant son healthcare premium that had to have matter tiny, and mental health, I understand how unfair it feels to men, but as a woman I understand the necessity.

coolrepublica on March 30, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Keep up the ESL courses, eventually you’ll be able to put together a comment that makes sense.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Since they are now employees, is Social Security and Medicare now being withheld from their scholarships?

ss396 on March 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM

In all honesty, this is such an absurd ruling that I think the real ploy by mediocre talent like that Northwestern QB, who will not be playing in the pros, is to bleed as much money out of the system as possible. My prediction is that the NCAA will work out some deal that falls short of unionizing “students.”

If not, make them a profit center, give up all pretense that these thugs are actually getting an education, and treat them like any other college employee subject to collective bargaining.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about much though. What happens in right-to-work states where a football player does not want to join the union. For example, I’ve heard that University of Alabama has a football program. Is union membership really going to be a condition of playing for the Crimson Tide?

Happy Nomad on March 30, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Speaking of women’s sports, they can kiss the Title IX money good-bye. After all, where do you think the money for every women’s sport (yes, even including Wisconsin women’s hockey and Tennessee’s women’s basketball) comes from? Hint – the gate revenue doesn’t cover the cost.

Steve Eggleston on March 30, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Another instance of conflicting Regulatory Environments.
As with the effect of Illegal Immigration Amnesty on minority employment.
Or SSM vs. Black Churches.

Electoral Darwinism at work – the only thing certain is that the GOP will not benefit from any of it.

AesopFan on March 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM

What?? Really? Talk about beaurocratic wast…

sorrowen on March 30, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Some of those college athletes might want to read this before they sign that union contract…
http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/03/college_athletes_may_regret_unionization.html

What with taking out loans to pay the taxes on their scholarships, housing, food, etc., and pay their union dues…they could well end up after four years with over $100,000.00 in debt.
But, it’s doubtful that any of them will even consider that. They’ve gotten pretty used to the free ride; and believe that it will last forever.

Solaratov on March 30, 2014 at 6:09 PM

If they were to go on strike, would they be “locked out” of their classes? Many teams have a minimum GPA and attendance requirements.

Since they would become (or already are), aren’t they violating NCAA rules, and once proven, will be banned from post-season play as a team and as individuals?

BobMbx on March 30, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Some thoughts: :-)
-
Since Illinois is not a “right to work” state will all players will be required to join? (some industries are exempt in RTW states)
-
With which union will they be affiliated?
-
Will the IRS impute the student/employee’s income for all the “extras” that are now tax free?
-
Will current third string players with seniority suddenly become starters?

diogenes on March 30, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Since they are now employees, is Social Security and Medicare now being withheld from their scholarships?

ss396 on March 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM

At state school are they public employees entitled to pension benefits?

KW64 on March 30, 2014 at 6:23 PM

The Left’s War on Jocks.

Let’s have some Tea Party ads – Jocks Unite.

faraway on March 30, 2014 at 6:23 PM

What with taking out loans to pay the taxes on their scholarships, housing, food, etc., and pay their union dues…they could well end up after four years with over $100,000.00 in debt.

Solaratov on March 30, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Oh! Say it isn’t true. That an NCAA college footballer could end up with a degree and no understanding of personal finances.

Happy Nomad on March 30, 2014 at 6:25 PM

How is a scholarship kid going to cough up money to pay for union dues?

faraway on March 30, 2014 at 6:27 PM

The good news about college football going union is that the entire defensive line can be the Union Goon Squad…

vnvet on March 30, 2014 at 6:28 PM

The maternity coverage is to help out the pool. Men are not going to give birth, but they can help pay for the women that do. It may sounds stupid, and it is, but if woman were to be charged more for healthcare because their risk for higher payout is higher, a lot of women would opt not to get pregnant. As someone who had to pay, for my infant son healthcare premium that had to have matter tiny, and mental health, I understand how unfair it feels to men, but as a woman I understand the necessity.

coolrepublica on March 30, 2014 at 5:21 PM

A bunch of advocates, like yourself, forced me to pay an extra premium on my insurance for years because I was a smoker. You didn’t want to be in a ‘tainted’ risk pool. Now, when you and your ilk, find yourselves in a class of a higher risk pool, it is suddenly unfair to single out a particular group for higher premiums.

Crawl back into your cave, you cheap hypocrite.

ss396 on March 30, 2014 at 6:50 PM

So these oppressed college football players will be paying quarterly estimated federal income tax on the value of their scholarships, right???? The next deadline is April 15.

kd6rxl on March 30, 2014 at 7:10 PM

As an old Cal Man I have to say I find it (bitterly) hilarious that this legal principle is being played out at *Northwestern* instead of USC, Texas, Alabama….

kd6rxl on March 30, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Crawl back into your cave, you cheap hypocrite.

ss396 on March 30, 2014 at 6:50 PM

bingo.

dmacleo on March 30, 2014 at 7:54 PM

As someone else pointed out, if they’re “employees” and their scholarships are “pay”, don’t they owe “income taxes”?
Sadly these players will think they’re going to enrich themselves, when it’ll be the unions and lawyers who clean up.
As for the schools, either hire football players, or end the scholarships, which, academically, are largely a joke.

tpitman on March 30, 2014 at 8:20 PM

If they are university employees, that means that their “scholarships” are taxable wages — along with all of the other in-kind payments (uniforms, in-house medical care, etc.).

This is one place I hope the IRS becomes intimately involved.

RoadRunner on March 30, 2014 at 8:46 PM

More proof women don’t belong on the football field or locker room.

lel2007 on March 30, 2014 at 10:00 PM

I represented a construction contractor before the NLRB in Chicago on one case (same Region as this ruling). In my first phone call with the “neutral” board attorney, she swore at me probably 15, 20 times, as thus, “Tell your MF’ing client to sign the F’ing contract with the union and quit F’ing around …” well you get the idea.

And this was in 2002. The NLRB has NEVER been on the side of business, EVER. Note that the word “business” does not appear in their name, but “labor” does.

P.s., I asked for a trial and never heard back from them – 12 years ago and counting.

Lance Corvette on March 30, 2014 at 11:11 PM

As an old Cal Man I have to say I find it (bitterly) hilarious that this legal principle is being played out at *Northwestern* instead of USC, Texas, Alabama….

kd6rxl on March 30, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Texas and Alabama (but not USC) are safe for the time being. The NLRB doesn’t have jurisdiction over public universities.

J.S.K. on March 31, 2014 at 1:28 AM

Assume, by some miracle, that Northwestern were to make the NCAA college football playoffs and was trailing Alabama 22-20 with 1 second to go and the ball on Alabama’;s 3 yard line. A winning field goal will do it for the Wildcats. But WAIT! The Northwestern kicker refuses to boot the ball stipulating he will do so only if his contract is renegociated. No problem, the coach sends in his backup kicker. But WAIT! Northwestern’s offensive linemen carry picket signs stating they refuse to block “in solidarity” with their striking kicker.”HE’S NOT A JOCK!~ WE WON’T BLOCK.”

The only question, then, is will fellow union employees, the Alabama defense, honor the picket line and refuse to block the kick or are they just “scabs”.

MaiDee on March 31, 2014 at 5:56 AM

I wouldn’t be surprised if Northwestern ultimately says to hell with it, goes D-3 and joins the University Athletic Association. They can play U. of Chicago, Brandeis, NYU, Wash U., Carnegie-Mellon and similar schools.

Mr. D on March 31, 2014 at 8:44 AM

I never thought I’d long for the good old days when the star RB got caught smokin’ a little weed or starting an after curfew bar fight in the as bad as it can get category.

Kissmygrits on March 31, 2014 at 9:25 AM

A couple of points.

1) If they are employees then yes these are taxable wages. It seems university employees have a slightly different SS deal but anyway. Fed, State, and Local taxes are due. Northwestern would now also have to maintain WC and unemployment taxes paid in their programs. If you get cut or do not have your position (scholarship) maintained, you are now unemployed. And eligible for UC.
2) In right to work states you would not have to join the union.
3) As employees, they are no longer amateur athletes , and therefore Title IX would no longer applicable.
4) I assume minimum wage rules would still be required. In minor league sports that probably means they start to disappear. Few scholarships meet that hurdle in those sports – expecially among the men sports.
5) Yep, tutoring would now be taxed as a benefit conferred due to their position.

Zomcon JEM on March 31, 2014 at 4:36 PM