Board considers if college players are employees - New York News

Board considers if college players are employees

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

By MICHAEL TARM

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal agency kicked off the first in a series of hearings Wednesday on whether to approve a bid by Northwestern football players to unionize, and both sides acknowledged the key question was whether college athletes should be considered employees.

During a National Labor Relations Board hearing in Chicago, lawyers for the proposed union and the university agreed that if college football players qualify as employees, they can legally form the first-of-its-kind union and if not, they can't.

"That is the key threshold issue," university attorney Alex Barbour said.

If the union, called the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, eventually gets the green light, advocates says it will provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for financial security and improved safety on the field.

SEE: NU Football players take a step toward becoming a union

This first attempt is being closely watched, with the expectation that, if it succeeds, other college teams nationwide could quickly follow suit.

The players' attorney John Adam argued his clients met the definition of employees because they put in 40-hour workweeks during the season, are managed by coaches and receive payment in the form of scholarships.

"They are entitled to be represented by a union ... to bring a voice" to their grievances, he said.

Barbour disagreed. He told the hearing scholarships aren't divvied out as wages.

"Scholarships are for getting an education," he said. "It is not a form of compensation for playing football."

Supporters stretch the definition of employees too far, he argued. And he said it would raise other questions, including whether walk-ons without scholarships could be in the union.

Wednesday's hearing was meant to identify main points of contention, not to thrash them out in detail. That happens next week with three days of testimony. A decision on whether CAPA can organize could come soon after.

One witness who will testify next week for those petitioning for the union will be Wildcats' outgoing senior quarterback, Kain Colter.

Colter and former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, CAPA's designated president, announced the formation of the union last month. United Steelworkers said they were footing the legal bills.

For now, the push is to unionize athletes at private schools, like Northwestern. Public universities, which are subject to different regulations, could follow later.

After Wednesday's hearing, which lasted less than an hour, Northwestern distributed a statement reiterating its opposition to the union at the Evanston, Ill.-based school.

"We do not regard, and have never regarded, our football program as a commercial enterprise," said Alan K. Cubbage, the vice president for university relations.

But Adam told reporters after the hearing that football players generate hundreds of millions of dollars for schools annually. So, he said, universities' insistence on calling them "student athletes" was inaccurate.

"This is a myth that we intend to demolish," he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow Us!

Share Your Sports Photos & Video

Submit Your Sports Photos
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • 2 U.S. marshals, 1 NYPD detective shot in Manhattan

    2 U.S. marshals, 1 NYPD detective shot in Manhattan

    Monday, July 28 2014 2:32 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:32:05 GMT
    Two deputy U.S. marshals, an NYPD detective, and a sexual assault suspect have been shot in a shootout in lower Manhattan, officials said. Speaking at a news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the marshals and cop were taken to a local hospital with apparently non-life threatening injuries.
    Two deputy U.S. marshals, an NYPD detective, and a sexual assault suspect have been shot in a shootout in lower Manhattan, officials said. Speaking at a news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the marshals and cop were taken to a local hospital with apparently non-life threatening injuries.
  • Massive brawl at NJ wedding

    Massive brawl at NJ wedding

    Monday, July 28 2014 2:24 PM EDT2014-07-28 18:24:34 GMT
    As many as 300 people became involved in a massive brawl at a New Jersey wedding hall that ended with two arrests on Sunday night.  Middletown police say that the fight broke out at about 10:30 p.m. at the Jacques Reception Hall on Palmer Ave. in Middletown.
    As many as 300 people became involved in a massive brawl at a New Jersey wedding hall that ended with two arrests on Sunday night.  Middletown police say that the fight broke out at about 10:30 p.m. at the Jacques Reception Hall on Palmer Ave. in Middletown.
  • Accused Long Island cop killer found guilty

    Accused Long Island cop killer found guilty

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:49 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:49:08 GMT
    An ex-convict suspected of gunning down a Nassau County police officer and then fatally shooting a carjacking victim was found guilty on all counts in the murders on Monday. Darrell Fuller, 33, shot and killed Police Officer Arthur Lopez in October 2012 who suspected he had been involved in a hit-and-run car accident. Authorities said Fuller then fled that shooting and killed the second victim, Raymond Facey of Queens, while stealing his vehicle.
    An ex-convict suspected of gunning down a Nassau County police officer and then fatally shooting a carjacking victim was found guilty on all counts in the murders on Monday. Darrell Fuller, 34, shot and killed Police Officer Arthur Lopez in October 2012 who suspected he had been involved in a hit-and-run car accident. Authorities said Fuller then fled that shooting and killed the second victim, Raymond Facey of Queens, while stealing his vehicle.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices