NLRB rules in favor of Northwestern players in union bid

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Northwestern University football players are a step closer to being able to unionize.

The regional National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that the players are school employees, and should therefore be allowed to vote on whether to form a union.

Kain Colter, former Wildcats’ quarterback, tweeted his excitement when the ruling was handed down Wednesday afternoon. Colter helped lead 85 teammates in their fight to organize.

Colter and his teammates were represented by the College Athletes Players Association, who said that players should be able to collectively bargain for things like money for sports-related medical expenses after their playing days, concussion experts and an education trust fund. They said they would not bargain for pay, which would of course violate NCAA rules.

The university, which plants to appeal the ruling, argued that the players are students first an athlete second, and the ruling could violate Title IX which ensures equality among women’s and mens sports.

The university also says it’ll be a matter of time before the players would ask for money. WGN Legal Analyst Terry Sullivan says the ruling’s implications are huge.

A statement released by the Northwestern University following the ruling reads, in part: “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.”

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