Federal agency says Northwestern football players can unionize


The Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has given Northwestern football players the okay to unionize. The ruling means that players are now employees under federal law, and they can now create their union.

MORE: 5 reasons why unions won’t take over college football

“Players receiving scholarships to perform football-related services for the Employer under a contract for hire in return for compensation are subject to the Employer’s control and are therefore employees,” the NLRB’s ruling read.

The main goal that has been discussed isn’t about getting paid; it’s about better medical protections and for scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance.

The NCAA released a statement in response.

“While not a party to the proceeding, the NCAA is disappointed that the NLRB Region 13 determined the Northwestern football team may vote to be considered university employees. We strongly disagree with the notion that student-athletes are employees.

We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid.

Over the last three years, our member colleges and universities have worked to re-evaluate the current rules. While improvements need to be made, we do not need to completely throw away a system that has helped literally millions of students over the past decade alone attend college. We want student athletes – 99 percent of whom will never make it to the professional leagues – focused on what matters most – finding success in the classroom, on the field and in life.”

At this time, the ruling only applies to scholarship football players at private institutions such as Northwestern, because they are under the jurisdiction of federal law. Although appeals will hold up the unionization for months or maybe even years, the old student athlete model is in critical condition.



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  • College football sacrificed at the altar of the god of socialism and party vote buying. Northwestern University now has about 20 sponsored sports. All student athletes are now equally entitled in the eyes of the NLRB. What happens when the cost of sponsoring sports goes up? That’s right, employees get fired. Look for Northwestern to wind up with about 4 University sponsored sports. Hundreds of scholarships will no longer be available. Coaches will get goodbye handshakes, and nobody will be hiring. State legislatures and the Federal Government will become even more polarized. Greed and power know no limits to the social institutions mindlessly laid to waste. The sick model of sports clubs will now make slaves of participants because participation opportunities will plummet. The ratio of participants to spectators is about to drop a power of 10. Thank you NLRB, you have now gone from a hated free society killer to evil vampire bloodsucker of America’s most sacred institutions. May this blog be the start of a Nation-wide petition to legislate a way to protect athletes of all sports without making them dreaded employees and even more soul-less union robots.

  • Players are NOT employees and should NOT get paid. They are students. The school is giving them an opportunity of a life time by getting a free educations that cost thousands and a chance to get make millions if the make it to the pro’s. The coaches and other employees at the school have paid their dues and went threw college. We live in a world today that teaches kids that they are owed something. If they don’t like the rules then they don’t have to play football or any sport for the school. The can pay their own way threw college and get a job like the rest of us. Or do like I did and join the army and then go back to college and let the army pay for it.

  • Did the NLRB just change them from amateur to professional status?

    What about others that get scholarships? Are they also employees? Band, Arts,etc.

    Will the student now owe taxes on these benefits?

    Will we see less opportunity now for kids that come from low income families as colleges cut back on scholarships in reaction to this ruling?

  • Leave it to some loony, far left Chicago government office to make some ridiculous decision. Based on reading this article, the most disturbing statement is that the students allegedly want “scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance” when that is exactly what the scholarships currently cover. The problem is that it is all relative and some morons will always want more. Thus, what is considered “full cost of attendance” for one player will always be insufficient for idiot Joe Smith who wants to pay for a better apartment, a better car, better clothes, etc. Hopefully, this will be appealed and an intelligent court will toss this nonsense quickly.

  • This is a disaster waiting to happen if it actually becomes legit after the appeal. I don’t see how you can regulate it. If you’re going to do it for athletes on scholarship, you have to do it for everyone on scholarship. It’s only fair. But if this does become legit, things will get ugly. You’ll have every athlete getting full scholarships, for all sports. Many sports don’t offer full rides. They just give partial scholarships. If it becomes law for all sports to offer full rides, that is going to take away scholarships for regular students that are attending school with the sole purpose of getting an education. Which at the end of the day is the most important thing. I love college sports and I definitely love my football, but at the end of the day, it isn’t more important than education.

    • Sadly for some it is more important than education. Why? because some of them are beyond educating and making it to the next level is really the only hope they have. Not condoning it just stating an opinion. It would stagger some people if they knew how many hours of classes some of these kids miss.

    • Maybe we are getting ready to see the return of zero money for study college. Otherwise they are an employee and can unionize. Everyone goes to college only where they can afford to pay the bill out of their own pocket. That would be the biggest hoot of an unintended consequence. So who will then pay the bills for the poor to attend Northwestern University? The Alums, the boosters, the business community, the chamber of commerce? Will every student on the team have a different employer? The all volunteer army of campus life is about to be born. The communists are kings wearing no clothes. Bob Stoops is looking pretty smart today.

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