Student athletes watching Northwestern union ruling

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The football program at Northwestern University in Illinois now has the right to form a union.

The National Labor Relations Board made the unprecedented ruling Wednesday which says the Northwestern football team can bargain with the school as a group of employees represented by a union. They could bargain for things such as health insurance and even a paycheck.

The ruling could put more pressure on the NCAA and the major conferences to give something back to the players who bring in billions of dollars in revenue.

Youngstown State University student Howard Moore said the ruling will give student athletes protection.

“They just want to insure themselves for the future. Maybe not have to pay for anything if they get injured or something,” said Moore. “Scholarships are available year to year. If they get hurt, they can take away their scholarship and they have nothing then.”

But the players haven’t quite scored a touchdown yet. Youngstown labor law attorney Dennis Haines said years could go by before the ruling is official because of all the appeals that are sure to follow.

“You have not only the university but the NCAA fighting the decision,” said Haines. “What is going to be confusing is that none of the kids who are now playing football there will be around.”

Haines said other colleges may try to jump on the bandwagon. However, Northwestern is a private university, which is subject to the National Labor Act. Public universities, such as YSU and many others, would have to use state law in any discussions to form a union.

“I think it will be more difficult for these types of groups to try to organize the public sector,” said Haines.

Northwestern University has already announced they plan to appeal the ruling.

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