Northwestern appeals football players union ruling

Northwestern's Kain Colter (2) catches a pass from quarterback Trevor Siemian for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA football game against Ohio State in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
April 9, 2014 1:29:03 PM PDT
Northwestern filed an appeal Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board to overturn a regional director's ruling that football players on scholarship are eligible to unionize.

The appeal comes after former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and Ramogi Huma met with members of Congress to present their case for player unionization earlier this month. Under the ruling, scholarship football players would be allowed to unionize because of their status as employees.

Northwestern claims that the NLRB director "ignored" evidence of the institution's emphasis on academics for all students, including student-athletes.

"While we respect the NLRB process, we disagree strongly with the regional director's opinion. We hope that the full NLRB will not only review this decision but will hold that Northwestern's football scholarship athletes are not employees, and the petition seeking an election for the players to vote on union representation will be dismissed," said Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for University Relations at Northwestern, in a press release. "We applaud our players for bringing national attention to these important issues, but we strongly believe that unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address these concerns."

The university also cited a 2004 case in which the NLRB ruled that Brown University graduate assistants were students, not employees.

Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald has also urged his players not to approve unionization.

The players will vote by secret ballot April 25 to determine whether or not they will unionize.


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