Thursday, April 24, 2014

Northwestern Not Keen on Football Unionization (to say the least)

Blog readers will know of prior posts concerning a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that college football players at Northwestern U are essentially employees and are entitled, therefore, to legal protections to unionize.  The ruling does not apply directly to UCLA since UCLA is a public institution and the NLRB covers private sector employees.  However, we have noted that a former UCLA athlete has been active in the unionization movement.  California's PERB - which covers public sector employees - could conceivably follow the NLRB's ruling since the statutory language under which it operates is similar.  But it doesn't have to.

In any event, the NY Times carries an article describing the efforts by Northwestern to discourage players from voting for a union  "As soon as a National Labor Relations Board official ruled that scholarship football players had the right to unionize, the university began a wide-ranging campaign to defeat a vote..."

Full story at

UPDATE: The full NLRB has agreed to a request by Northwestern to review the case.  NLRB release below:

NLRB Grants Request for Review in Northwestern University Athletes Case

April 24, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board has granted Northwestern University’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s March 26, 2014 decision in 13-RC-121359. The Regional Director found the University’s grant-in-aid scholarship football players are employees under the National Labor Relations Act. The election will take place on April 25, 2014 but the ballots will be impounded until the Board issues a decision affirming, modifying or reversing the Regional Director’s decision.

The Board intends to issue a subsequent notice establishing a schedule for the filing of briefs on review and inviting amicus briefs, to afford the parties and interested amici the opportunity to address issues raised in this case.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have a union as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.

Today’s Order is posted on the NLRB webpage and can be found here. 

UPDATE: The vote will be taken but the ballots won't be tallied until the full Board rules and only if it rules that the players are indeed employees.  See:  

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