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Northwestern alums say players being pushed to vote against union

Kain Colter

A meeting of former Northwestern football players Wednesday night brought attention to concerns that current players were being pressured to vote no on an upcoming vote to determine if Northwestern football players will form a union. Some Northwestern alums suggested current players on the football team have been receiving phone calls from alumni pushing them to vote no on the union next week.

The biggest problem right now is a state of confusion over the impact of players at Northwestern forming a union could potentially mean. The NCAA and the university will lead you to think it could be the beginning of the dismantling of many other sports at the division one level, but that could just be an extreme worst-case scenario. The biggest push right now by this players union movement is to have a seat at the table with Northwestern leaders and have their voices heard.

“We want the facts to be the facts,” said Kevin Brown, a former Northwestern football player from the 1980s. Brown did not take stance for or against the union vote, at least not in front of the media attending the meeting Wednesday night, but his message seemed pretty clear. Get out as much information as possible so the players can make an informed decision when they cast their ballot.

Some alumni believe the players should voice their concerns directly to the head coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

“They could have taken these issues straight to Coach Fitz and Northwestern,” former Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa said. “It’s frustrating to see your coach and your school come under fire like this.”

Fitzgerald has been on record speaking against the union idea and he has said he wants his players to think long and hard before voting on unionization. If it were up to Fitzgerald, Northwestern players would vote no. There is no indication Fitzgerald is applying pressure on players to vote no, but he will not shy away from voicing his concerns for the best interest of his players.

“We want to make sure that they have all the information, so that’s a process we’re starting to work through right now,” Fitzgerald said earlier this month. “I’m honored to have that opportunity with our guys and we’ll work through it day by day.”

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board empowered players to hold such a vote, recognizing the football players as employees of Northwestern University. The players are set to vote on forming a union next week, although there are mixed emotions when it comes to whether or not it is a good idea. Now former quarterback Kain Colter has become the face of the union movement at Northwestern but earlier this month it was his replacement under center, Trevor Siemian who voiced his concerns about the formation of a union. Northwestern is prepared to contest the ruling all the way up to the Supreme Court if necessary, which has been expected from the start.

When it comes time to vote on forming a union, will there be enough votes to take the next step?

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9 Responses to “Northwestern alums say players being pushed to vote against union”
  1. bigjdve says: Apr 17, 2014 11:08 AM

    The Alums probably don’t want to see NW football go away. That is truly a possibility if the Union is formed.

    It should be interesting to see what happens next week.

  2. cubano76 says: Apr 17, 2014 12:04 PM

    What happened to the good ole days when players got paid under the table for jobs they never showed up to? If we had more of that going on, we wouldn’t be here today. Hire Barry Switzer at Northwestern and watch how quickly this Union talk disappears. Just sayin….

  3. blendedwhiskey says: Apr 17, 2014 12:13 PM

    Fitz is right with his opposition to the union. Once the players get a seat at the bargaining table, all bets are off and college football will be the worse for it. I thought student athletes at Northwestern were supposed to be smart!! Stay tuned….

  4. deadeye says: Apr 17, 2014 12:18 PM

    Funny how there are no stories reporting that Northwestern players are being “pressured” to vote in favor of unionizing.

  5. sparty0n says: Apr 17, 2014 1:55 PM

    I still say every reason given for the players to unionize also applies to the marching band. It could be interesting to watch this unfold.

  6. derekgorgonstar says: Apr 17, 2014 6:24 PM

    Nothing good has come from unions. Or lawyers.

    Or liberals.

  7. huskersrock1 says: Apr 17, 2014 9:42 PM

    According to title 9 all sports WILL receive the same compensation as the football players. That will break the athletic department.

  8. shawtiernan says: Apr 18, 2014 5:28 AM

    Nothing good huh? So equal pay, civil rights, and freeing the slaves all bad huh?

    I say pay college players but revoke all scholarships. Set up participation in sports like a work-study program. The job pays 10 bucks an hour, but you have to be a student, and you can figure out how to pay for everything else. See if they spit on the scholarship then. Most Americans would kill to go to northwestern for free.

    To me it’s not about fair, it’s about this is what you signed up for. Yeah the university makes a ton of money off you, but if they didn’t they wouldn’t be handing out free educations. If all you care about is your fair share go play arena ball or Canadian football till your 3 years removed.

  9. deadeye says: Apr 18, 2014 6:50 AM

    In defense of unions, I would heartily join a union to change the working conditions that existed a century ago in the United States. But joining a union for pay increases is not very smart. I much prefer to be paid based on my personal skill instead of some collectively bargained contract that artificially raises the lowest earners and limits the top earners.

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