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NLRB rules in favor of College Athletes Players Association-orders union vote

“An injury to one is an injury to all”

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Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

- International Workers of the World

Just as Marvin Miller taught baseball about teamwork, football players at Northwestern University represented by the College Football Players Association and with the support of the United Steelworkers, set the gold standard for college athletics. After five days of deliberations National Labor Relations Board Region 13 Director Peter Sung Ohr declared today that Northwestern University football players fit the legal definition of employees and thus are eligible to form a union.

The College Athletes Players Association states its case on its website:

NCAA policymakers who benefit monetarily from the current system will continue to use scare tactics and misinformation to argue why college athletes should be denied their rights under labor laws. CAPA will ultimately secure basic protections for college athletes, but college sports will remain unchanged in many ways. College sports fans will continue to cheer for their favorite teams just as they always have. College athletes will still be college students, train year-round while meeting academic requirements, and give all they have for their schools.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard expressed the sentiment of working class football fans across the nation in celebrating this milestone:

This ruling is a tremendous victory, not just for the athletes at Northwestern, but ultimately for all college athletes, many of whom generate tens of millions of dollars each year for their institutions, yet still are in constant danger of being out on the street with one accident or injury.

As is often the case with union organizing drives the focus is on safety and results. The NCAA coined the term ‘student-athletes’ as an attempted pushback against the right of athletes to organize. Employers often spend millions to avoid partnering with their employees so as a private institution it will not come as no surprise if the university retains a union-busting law firm to attempt to protect the university’s right to free labor.

Gerard states that the USW will continue to stand with the players, "Our union has been proud to support these players from day one, and we couldn't be happier with the result of this case. We were confident all along that this was the correct decision, and we believe it will withstand the anticipated appeals and challenges. Whatever the future holds, we will continue to stand with the Northwestern football players and with all members of the College Athletes Players Association through the end of this struggle."

Teamwork equals Solidarity equals Victory. That's a game plan every worker understands.

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