CHICAGO – Student-athletes at Northwestern University are attempting to create a labor union in order to get paid for playing college football, according to a group who wants to the first union represent college athletes.
National College Players Association (NCPA) filed a petition backed by United Steelworkers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office. The petition asks for the NLRB to recognize it has a new labor union.
Wildcat quarterback Kain Colter and an undisclosed number of Northwestern football players signed the petition.
“I am honored to represent my team and help change college football for the better,” said Colter, pointing out safety issues and future medical care to treat injuries suffered during their playing careers.
“These injustices occur in the NCAA because student athletes don’t have a voice,” he said. “They don’t have a seat at the table. The current model resembles a dictatorship.”
NCPA said athletes produce billions of dollars for colleges and helps pay for their coaches.
Northwestern University said that because the players are not employees, it does not believe collective bargaining is the appropriate way to address their concerns. But it did praise the effort by the students.
The NCAA is pushing back claiming student-athletes have no rights to be considered as employees and released a statement:
“This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary. We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.”