News & Insights

NLRB Ruling: Northwestern University Football Players Can Unionize
March 27, 2014
by Robert Conte


South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago made a decision that in our opinion will stun the world of college athletics. The Regional Director decided, based on a petition filed by the Northwestern University football players, that the players are employees of the school and are therefore entitled to a Union election.

It has already stated that this somewhat “far-fetched” decision will revolutionize college sports. In our opinion, it will more likely destroy it.

The decision by the Regional Director is not the final word on the subject. The case can (and will be) appealed to the NLRB in Washington and the federal courts, if necessary. However, over the course of the past several months the NLRB, on a mandate from the Administration, has been rendering decisions and creating regulations in both the private and public sector that makes it easier for individuals to organize and form a Union, and very difficult for the employer to oppose the Union organizing threats. This decision could have ramifications that extend well beyond the realm of college athletics.

Bad facts make bad law. This is far from over.