Northwestern Football Team begins to form college players union

Northwestern Football Team begins to form college players union

Kain Colter Union

On Tuesday, former Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter took a historic step forward to change the NCAA system and to form a players union.

From Yahoo! Sports:

Paperwork signed by what union organizers say represents the majority of the current Wildcats football team was submitted Tuesday to the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board. Cards filled out by individual players declared they wished to be represented by the newly formed College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) against what they deem their employer, Northwestern University.

CAPA is backed by the United Steelworkers, who had their international president, Leo Gerard, and national political director, Tim Waters, in Chicago to assist in the process. It is running in conjunction with the National College Players Association, a once small advocacy outfit from California operated for years by former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma.

This obviously isn’t a guaranteed success, but it is the first attempt of its kind to form a union. This is the first step to give athletes a voice at the table and is challenging “amateurism.” The union is only looking to represent football and basketball players, aka the revenue sports athletes.

Some more from Yahoo!:

Registering with the labor relation board starts a process. Northwestern must respond to whether it wishes to recognize the union. The school likely will follow NCAA precedent and deny the players are employees at all. Colleges prefer to classify them as “student-athletes.”

School administrators and coaches, according to Colter, were unaware of the union organizing as of Tuesday morning, when he planned to tell them personally. As such, neither the school nor the NCAA was initially available for comment.

If Northwestern rejects the union, the local labor board will hold a hearing on the matter, listen to both sides and make a determination on who is correct. In rough terms, the debate is over whether the players really are “student-athletes” or whether they’re employees compensated by scholarships, room, board and other items.

No matter who wins, one side can appeal to the National Labor Relations Board. And no matter who wins that time, the loser can take the ruling to the Federal Courts, which has numerous layers and appeals processes.

Northwestern players submitted paperwork in hope of being represented by the College Athletes Players Association. …
Even if the union at Northwestern ends up getting recognized, it would apply to athletes at only private NCAA institutions eligible for membership. Players at public schools would still have to take the case to their individual state boards.

This is just the first step in a long process and it will be interesting to see how it plays out and what kind of future impact it has. One of the Northwestern football players got on Reddit and explained why they are doing this:

Northwestern Reddit

I can’t wait to see the NCAA squirm over this.

[Yahoo! Sports]