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Ruling paves way for college players’ union

The National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday in favor of the College Athletes Players Association, determining that Northwestern football players meet the federal guidelines to form a union.

The players, led by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, contended in their petition to the NLRB’s Chicago regional office in February that they should be viewed as employees of the university rather than students. The NLRB agreed.

“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 ruling stated.

The decision could ultimately have a major impact on college football and allow players across the country to unionize.

“So proud of my teammates, Ramogi, lawyers, and supporters around the nation! This is a HUGE win for ALL college athletes!” Colter tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

Northwestern plans to appeal the decision.

“Northwestern University is disappointed by today’s ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board finding that Northwestern University’s football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships are employees and directing that a secret ballot election be held to determine whether the football players should be represented by the College Athletes Players Association for purposes of collective bargaining with Northwestern University,” said Alan Cubbage, the school’s vice president for university relations.

“While we respect the NLRB process and the regional director’s opinion, we disagree with it. Northwestern 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. Northwestern plans to appeal today’s decision to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. The University will continue to explore all of its legal options in regard to this issue.”