Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
From left, former Northwestern University football quarterback Kain Colter, Ramogi Huma, founder and President of the National College Players Association and Tim Waters, Political Director of the United Steel Workers, arrive on Capitol Hill in Wednesday, April, 2, 2014. Members of a group seeking to unionize college athletes are looking for allies on Capitol Hill as they brace for an appeal of a ruling that said full scholarship athletes at Northwestern University are employees who have the right to form a union. Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter _ the face of a movement to give college athletes the right to unionize _ and Ramogi Huma, the founder and president of the National College Players Association, scheduled meetings Wednesday with lawmakers. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
College athletes take labor cause to Capitol Hill
First Published Apr 02 2014 09:14 am • Last Updated Apr 03 2014 04:45 pm

Washington • Members of a group trying to unionize college athletes sought out potential congressional allies Wednesday as they braced for an appeal of a ruling that said full scholarship athletes at Northwestern University are employees who have the right to form a union.

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, the face of a movement to give college athletes the right to unionize, and Ramogi Huma, the founder and president of the National College Players Association, had meetings scheduled with lawmakers over a two-day period.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"The goal is to make athletes have a seat at the table. Health and safety of athletes is the concern, especially to reduce the risk of brain trauma," Huma said outside the Capitol before heading to a meeting with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Among the others they expected to meet with were Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House Education and Labor Committee; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., whose district includes Northwestern; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.

They intended to make clear one of their chief concerns, providing for athletes’ medical needs. Huma said the group also was concerned that the NCAA would lobby Congress to prohibit unionizing by college athletes.

"We want to make sure they have an opportunity to hear from us directly," Huma said.

Stacey Osburn, director of public and media relations for the NCAA, said in a statement that Huma’s concern was "unwarranted." A Northwestern official has said that the students were not employees and that unionization and collective bargaining were not the appropriate methods to address their concerns.

"The law is fairly clear and consistent with Northwestern’s position, so the NCAA has made no contacts with anyone in Congress attempting to ban the unionization of student-athletes," Osburn said.

Colter, however, called the decision a "strong ruling" and predicted it "will be hard to overturn."

Last week’s ruling by a regional National Labor Relations Board director in Chicago said Northwestern football players on full scholarships are employees of the university and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively.


story continues below
story continues below

While the athletes’ effort has generated some support among Democrats, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the White House have declined to comment on the ruling. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. John Kline, R-Minn. — two lawmakers influential on education and labor issues — came out against it.

The university has said it would file a request for the full board in Washington to review the decision. It has until April 9 to do so.

The federal agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities, so the push to unionize athletes has been primarily targeted toward private schools such as Northwestern.

Opponents say giving college athletes employee status and allowing them to unionize could hurt college sports and higher education in numerous ways.

———

Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

———

Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/khefling



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.