Labor Board Rules Northwestern University Players Are Employees

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks at a January press conference in Chicago. David Banks/Getty Images

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks at a January press conference in Chicago. David Banks/Getty Images

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University athletes are employees of the school and are allowed to form a union.

The Associated Press calls the decision “stunning” because it has the potential to completely upend the way college athletics function. The AP adds:

“The Evanston, Ill-based university argued college athletes, as students, don’t fit in the same category as factory workers, truck drivers and other unionized workers. The school plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.

“Outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter took a leading role in establishing the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, which would take the lead in organizing the players. The United Steelworkers union has been footing the legal bills.”

In a statement, the university said it disagreed with the decision.

“Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students,” Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for university relations, said in a statement. “Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes.”

The university argued that students — who are compensated with “grant-in-aid scholarships” — were different from other unionized employees like autoworkers or train conductors, who are paid wages.

ESPN adds a bit more detail on NLRB Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr’s opinion:

“Ohr wrote in his ruling that the players ‘fall squarely within the [National Labor Relations] Act’s broad definition of ’employee’ when one considers the common law definition of ’employee.’

“Ohr ruled that the players can hold a vote on whether they want to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association, which brought the case to the NLRB along with former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter and the United Steelworkers Union.”

The ruling from the federal agency puts in motion a secret-ballot election to determine whether football players should be part of the union, which could in turn engage in collective bargaining with the university.

Colter said on Twitter: “This is a HUGE win for ALL college athletes!”

Update at 6:02 p.m. ET. The Reasons For Unionizing:

NPR’s David Schaper tells All Things Considered the athletes brought suit against the university to have a voice at the table. They argued that they received very little compensation, while the university and other employees raked in money. Another reason for the suit was health care. David explains that athletes receive health insurance for the time they are in school, but they no longer receive health care once they’re gone.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.image
Read original article – Published March 26, 2014 3:40 PM
Labor Board Rules Northwestern University Players Are Employees

Recent headlines

  • Norton Gregory

    Juneau Assembly candidate reflects on old DWI and DUI

    Norton Gregory is running for Juneau Assembly in the upcoming municipal election.
  • The state ferry Columbia will soon sail south for repairs to a damaged propeller. That will  leave Sitka without marine highway service for two weeks. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

    Kennicott ferry fills in while Columbia is repaired

    Alaska’s largest ferry will be down for repairs longer than expected. Another ship will fill in, but it’s smaller and some travelers will have to make other arrangements.
  • Alaska Native Sisterhood members march in Wrangell during the Grand Camp's 2015 Convention in Wrangell. (Photo Courtesy Peter Naoroz/ANB)

    Brotherhood, Sisterhood prep for convention

    Alaska’s oldest Native organizations are trying to attract younger members. That and other issues are on the table at the ANB-ANS Grand Camp Convention Oct. 5-8.
  • The Explorer of the Seas docked in Skagway. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)

    Skagway tourism season comes to a close

    As the air gets colder and the days shorter, the Skagway tourism season is coming to a close. Overall, tourism staff says this summer was a success. The last cruise ship of the season has come and gone and shop owners around Skagway are preparing for winter, cleaning up and closing their doors. The streets that were recently busy with visitors are quieting down.

Comments

Playing Now: