Coming Soon: University of Miami football players sign collective bargaining agreement with the University.

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 9:08am by

The National Labor Relations Board ruled that full-scholarship student athletes who play football for Northwestern University are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act, and thus have the right to for a union and negotiate, collectively, with their employer, Northwestern University. I haven’t fully digested the ruling but its a potential game changer. But let’s talk basics:

First — Northwestern is going to appeal. It has many levels of appeal before this ruling becomes final. I suspect that if the appellate courts affirm the decision, then the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case and make a final ruling.

Second — this only applies to private schools. Public schools are not “employers” under the Act.

Third — this only applies to full-scholarship athletes. The NLRB did not reject “employee” status for student athletes on less than a full scholarship, but the ruling didn’t apply to them either. Expect more lawsuits on this.

Here’s the full decision:

NLRB Decision on Northwestern University Football Players Unionizing

Given the prominence of the University of Miami in South Florida, I would anticipate some type of similar lawsuit being filed here. If you have questions about this ruling, feel free to contact me at Conrad & Scherer, LLP.

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