Monday, August 17, 2015

N.L.R.B. Denies Request From Northwestern Football Players Seeking Union

New York Times
August 17th, 2015


The National Labor Relations Board on Monday dismissed a petition by Northwestern football players who were seeking to unionize, effectively denying their claim that they are university employees and should be allowed to collectively bargain. In a unanimous decision that was a clear victory for the college sports establishment, the five-member board declined to exert its jurisdiction in the case and preserved, for now, one of the N.C.A.A.’s core principles: that college athletes are primarily students.

The Board did not directly rule on the central question in the case — whether the players, who spend long hours on football and help generate millions of dollars for Northwestern, are university employees. Instead, it found the novelty of the petition and its potentially wide-ranging impacts on college sports would not have promoted “stability in the labor market.” Citing competitive balance and the potential impact on N.C.A.A. rules, the board made clear it harbored many reservations about the ramifications of granting college athletes, much less a single team, collective bargaining rights.

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