In the News

NLRB dismisses petition to unionize Northwestern football players

August 17, 2015

On August 17, the NLRB announced it decided to dismiss the 2014 unionization petition by Northwestern University's scholarship football players.  In 2014, the NLRB's Region 13 director "issued a decision finding that the players were statutory employees under the NLRB and therefore eligible for unionization. Northwestern then requested a review of the regional director's decision from the NLRB," as seen in this article.  The article also stated, " Charles H. Kaplan, an attorney with Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. in New York City, pointed out that the regional director’s March 2014 decision was the first time the NLRB had ever asserted jurisdiction over college athletes. 'The Board has now pulled back from this radical position,' Kaplan said. 'However, this retreat will not prevent the NLRB from soon likely overturning its 2004 Brown University decision and ruling that graduate student assistants in private colleges and universities are employees under the Act. Indeed, the Board expressly found that the Northwestern players ‘bear little resemblance’ to the Brown University graduate student assistants.' Kaplan said the new Northwestern decision may not change the representation climate for employers in general. 'Indeed, by declining to take radical action here, the NLRB gives itself cover for the aggressive prounion rulings that it has made and will continue to render with regard to employers in general,' he said."