The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board this aftenoon issued a ruling that football players at Northwestern University are employees of the school and entitled to unionize.

Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr ordered that an election be held to determine whether the football players wish to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining.

Northwestern immediately issued a statement saying it plans to appeal the decision to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington.

University spokesman Alan Cubbage said the university “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,” Cubbage added.

While saying the school is committeed to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all its students, it doesn’t believe collective bargaining would advance the discussion of those topics.

Related documents

The NLRB decision

Northwestern University’s statement

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This is a very bad decision

    This is a very bad decision and will be re-enforced by the NLRB because, can anyone remember when the NLRB didn't take a pro-union stance. The good news is, like most bad NLRB rulings, our court system will overturn them.

    If it is not overturned, the real losers will be the unionize athlete. The athletes receiving scholarships and joining a union will paying the taxman for what will be considered salary. In NW's case that will be the taxes on about 75k per year. That alone will prevent athletes from joining the unions.

    This just adds to the growing trend of our Federal government making stupid decsions.


  2. Beginning of the end ?

    The University of Chicago awarded athletic scholarships for many activities—even trampoline [true]—for diversity. Still the students did not have to participate during college. Of course the same academic ability was required of all students. Hopefully that has not changed. Sports are not what NU and so many schools have made them. In fact the university withdrew from conference play for many years until everyone understood it was a university not a semi-pro sports facility. Perhaps NU and other schools should end the farce and just set-up semi-pro sports with no academic connection and give those teams a transition period until they can break free of the university completely.

    The effort to unionize will hopefully open the public’s eyes—and the university and donors—and be the straw that broke the camels back.

  3. What about others ?

    Football union or not, I'd think schools would have to give the same level of scholarships to all sport and those who participate. 

    Some  of the women's sports have much better records than the football or basketball teams.  Do they get the same coverage and benefits ?  I doubt it.

    And since NU [and others] are suppose to be "academic' institutions, scholarships for academic equal to football payer's.  I may be wrong but it seems rare for a uniiversity to cover ALL expense for even the top scholars. If they want full coverage they have to work their tails off going for privvate funded scholarships, e.g. Intel, Google.

    As well scholarship and funding are not "suppose" to be based on revenue or income generated.

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