The National Labor Relations Board has decided that college athletes can form a union. To reach that determination, the NLRB had to first find that football players are "employees" of the school. Football players at Northwestern University had sought to form a union. I first wrote about their request here.
The Northwestern University quarterback, Kain Colter, lead the effort apparently after he sustained an injury and experienced frustration with the NCAA. See CBS news report. He testified that at Northwestern, football comes first. If the players can fit academics in, then good. But, football still comes first. The Head Coach, Pat Fitzgerald, testified to the contrary, that academics comes first. The NLRB apparently believed Mr. Colter. The union will seek to ensure all medical expenses are covered for the players.
The NLRB does not have jurisdiction over local and state government unions. So, any future unions would have to come among private universities.
The implication of this may be far reaching. If the athletes are "employees," then they will be entitled to all sorts of protections. They will, for example, be entitled to minimum wage and worker’s compensation protection. The athletes receive scholarships, but do those scholarships satisfy minimum wage requirements if we factor in all the hours required of each player?
And, of course, as union members, the athletes can now negotiate with "management" regarding work hours, break periods, and … wind sprints?