Labor Relations Board rules Northwestern University athletes can unionize


A federal agency ruled Wednesday that college football players at Northwestern University have the right to unionize, creating the nation’s first college athletes union.

The ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board could potentially revolutionize college athletics, opening the door to pay and benefits for college athletes.

In effect, college athletes now qualify as employees under federal law and have the right to legally unionize.

With the United Steelworkers Union footing the bill, and outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colger taking the lead, the newly established College Athletes Players Associations, or CAPA, convinced the NLRB in a February hearing that college athletes at Northwestern University are not student athletes, but employees.

Northwestern University, which argued college athletes, as students, don’t fit in the same category as other unionized workers, plans to appeal to labor authorities in the nation’s capital.

The university issued the following statement after the ruling was announced:

"Northwestern University is disappointed by today's ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board finding that Northwestern University's football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees and directing that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern University.

"While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director's opinion, we disagree with it. Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students. Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes.”

What does this mean for athletes at the University of Texas?

According to CBS Sports, Wednesday's decision does not mean that all college athletes are free to form a union and start collective bargaining. The NLRB's ruling only applies to students at private schools, not public schools. Players at public schools would need to appeal to their state's labor board.

However, Wednesday’s decision did set in motion the idea of college athletes forming unions, which will undoubtedly affect all Universities and student athletes across the nation.

(Source: Associated Press)

Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address:

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