Local university, union president weighs in on college players unionizing

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local union president supports the decision of Northwestern University football players unionizing.

The National Labor Relations Board in Chicago ruled Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University are considered employees and can unionize. Under the ruling, any private university teams that are division one and “revenue generating” will fall under this. Players at these division one schools will have to file a suit to possibly get the right to unionize.

“You hear the rumor of these kids should be paid, and so this is another groundbreaking decision,” said Brent Eastom, union president of IUE-CWA Local 901.

University of Saint Francis is considered a private university and this ruling could apply to their athletes, but they’re not considered a division one or revenue generating university. Dr. Andrew Prall, Vice President of Academic Affairs at USF, said the bigger division ones schools may have a different focus than a smaller, private university.

“At other schools, the emphasis may be on preparing for professional sports, or about revenue generating by media contracts or different sorts of agreements that you really don’t find at a small campus,” said Dr. Prall.

Eastom said there could be a downfall from players unionizing. He claims negotiations could lead to strikes by players or lockouts by athletic departments. If this happens, Eastom said college sport fans would have a hard time coming to games out of fear of not seeing games.

Northwestern officials said they will appeal the decision. NCAA leaders said they were disappointed in the decision.

Northwestern football players will hold vote next week to decide if they will form a union.

IPFW would not fall under this ruling because it’s a state university.

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