USW Hails NLRB Ruling in Favor of College Athletes Players Association

Regional Director Calls Northwestern Players Employees, Orders Union Vote

Contact: Tim Waters: 412-562-2295, twaters@usw.org

PITTSBURGH (March 26) – The United Steelworkers (USW) released the following statement from USW International President Leo W. Gerard in response to today’s ruling from National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 13 Director Peter Sung Ohr declaring that Northwestern University football players fit the legal definition of employees and thus are eligible to form a union.

“This ruling is a tremendous victory, not just for the athletes at Northwestern, but ultimately for all college athletes, many of whom generate tens of millions of dollars each year for their institutions, yet still are in constant danger of being out on the street with one accident or injury.

“The key issue at Northwestern is negotiating better protections against concussions and improving medical coverage following graduation.

“Our belief all along was simply that these athletes have a right to expect the same fair treatment that all Americans should expect, and that when they work hard and devote years of their lives in service to an institution, they deserve certain basic protections in return. None of them should live in fear of losing their scholarships in an instant, nor should they be left without health care after debilitating injuries.

“Our union has been proud to support these players from day one, and we couldn’t be happier with the result of this case. We were confident all along that this was the correct decision, and we believe it will withstand the anticipated appeals and challenges. Whatever the future holds, we will continue to stand with the Northwestern football players and with all members of the College Athletes Players Association through the end of this struggle.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

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