From the Washington Post, August 17, 2015
The National Labor Relations Board halted the unionization efforts of Northwestern’s football players in a unanimous decision Monday, dismissing the players’ petition and handing a major victory to the NCAA and universities trying to preserve the longstanding structure of college athletics.
The board opted not to exert its jurisdiction in the case and declined to address whether student-athletes are akin to university employees. In its ruling, the board explained that had it rendered a more weighty judgment or supported a decision made last year by an NLRB regional director that football players are school employees, the complicated system of college athletics could be compromised.Allowing Northwestern’s football team to unionize “would not promote stability in labor relations,” the board said.
“The NCAA’s oversight renders individual team bargaining problematic,” the ruling stated. “They’ve essentially said, ‘On policy grounds, we don’t think it’s appropriate to touch this today,’” said Steven Bernstein, a Tampa-based attorney who specializes in labor issues. “For lack of a better word, this represents the board’s attempt to punt. It’s a quick kick on third and long.”