Three weeks from Friday, we should have a much clearer idea as to which immediate direction the movement toward unionizing college sports is headed.
A spokesperson from the National Labor Relations Board confirmed to the Associated Press Wednesday that Northwestern football players are scheduled to vote on forming a union April 25. Exactly a week ago today, the Chicago regional office of the NLRB ruled that Northwestern football players meet the standards under federal guidelines to be represented by a union.
The petition that triggered the ruling was was filed by the National College Players Association on behalf of former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), and had the backing of the United Steelworkers union. The NLRB agreed with CAPA’s argument that the football players are employees of the university.
As expected, Northwestern announced two days later that it would be appealing the ruling. The university has until April 9 to request a formal review, the Chicago Tribune reported. The paper went on to write that the vote “could be delayed if the NLRB in Washington accepts the request before April 25, but that’s unlikely.”
A total of 76 Northwestern football players are eligible to vote for or against a union. If a majority of the players vote for a union, CAPA would then have the legal right to collectively bargain with the university on the behalf of the players.
Such a development, however, would likely be years down the road even with an affirmative union vote as most expect the case to wind its way through the federal court system and ultimately wind up in the lap of the United States Supreme Court.