Panel Dismisses Ruling To Allow College Athletes To Unionize
The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a historic ruling that Northwestern University football players are school employees who are entitled to form what would be the nation's first union of college athletes.
The NLRB released its decision Monday. The losing side does not have an option to appeal.
Northwestern had appealed last year's ruling by a regional NLRB director in Chicago that led to a vote by football players on whether they wanted to form a union. Those ballots were sealed during the appeal and will now be destroyed.
Monday's ruling says unionization could throw off the "competitive balance'' between teams by setting different standards for practice, pay and other conditions at union and non-union schools.
As the University has stated previously, Northwestern considers its students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, to be students, first and foremost," said Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage, in a statement. "We applaud our players for bringing national attention to these important issues, but we believe strongly that unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns raised by student-athletes. We are pleased that the NLRB has agreed with the University’s position."
Northwestern University senior quarterback Zack Oliver says "there wasn't much of a reaction'' when the football team heard about a national ruling that prevents its members from unionizing.
Oliver declined to say Monday how he voted last year when the team cast secret ballots on whether to unionize. Those ballots were sealed pending the full National Labor Relations Board's ruling and will now be destroyed.
He says the team, which is currently holding summer practices in Wisconsin, was "going to be fine either way.''
Advocates say unionization would help athletes protect their health and financial interests.
Meanwhile, a former offensive lineman at the University of Illinois, Simon Cvijanovic, is alleging mistreatment by the football coach and medical staff, not just to him but other players as well and says they misled him about the extent of his injuries. Cvijanovic has called for a players union at the U of I.