Breaking News: The NLRB REJECTED Northwestern Players’ Petition to Unionize — What We Know, What it Means for the Dawgs

This afternoon the National Labor Relations Board rejected the petition of players at Northwestern University to be recognized as employees of the university and therefore to be given the right to unionize. The decision was, by all accounts, surprising seeing as most of the members of the Board are semi-recent appointees of President Barack Obama, a pro-union Democrat.

Here are a few things that we know:

  1. The reasoning behind rejecting the petition was competition. Basically the Board ruled that allowing players at Northwestern, a private school, to unionize would create an unfair competitive advantage over the public schools who would be left out in the cold. If the Board had ruled in favor of the players’ right to unionize the ruling only would have allowed other private school teams to follow suit, not the public schools. Hence, a competitive imbalance.
  2. This doesn’t end the fight over unionization in amateur athletics. Not by a long shot. Primarily because the board did not rule on the substance of the arguments within the petition itself. Unlike the O’Bannon ruling in which the NCAA’s logic behind Amateurism was torn asunder, the ruling today effectively punted the ball down the field until a later date. Still, it is a big blow given how unexpected it was and how it will probably reinforce public perception that the argument is all but decided.
  3. It seems that the hypothetical “later date” in which the Board could rule in favor of unionization will need to include a unified push from both a private and public school, and, I assume, women’s teams as well. I suspect the Board would rule in favor of a petition like that because the risk of creating a competitive imbalance between public and private university teams would be gone. Not to mention the concerns over TItle IX if women’s basketball teams were involved.
  4. Overall, the big positive takeaway for fans of the union push is that the Board never shows a hint of doubt that college athletes in big-time sports ought to be treated as employees. The big problem here, as I’ve said already, was how the petition was structured, not the merits of the argument itself. So one could safely assume that the problems for the NCAA will continue, just not from private school unions.

How will this affect the Dawgs?

Probably won’t have any effect. I will be interested to see if any of the beat writers are able to get current players to go on the record about unionizing. Honestly, I hope every beat writer in the country will be asking their current players about it. The next big push will need a public university’s team. Could that be UGA? I doubt it. But you never know. Crazier things have happened.

One last thing — don’t be dumb.

There will be lots of people gleefully bashing these players for trying to get what these idiots see as money they don’t deserve. However, this dispute was never about money. It was always and will always be about workman’s compensation and better healthcare for injured athletes, athletes who have no multi-million dollar contract to fall back on when hospital bills start to pile up (and, in most cases, no college degree either). Whatever your thoughts on unions, and I know there are a lot out there, just keep that in mind. Making fun of college students whose jersey you own for wanting more longterm health care for traumatic brain injuries is not a good look for you.



Posted on August 17, 2015, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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