Northwestern union vote coming in six days


The question of whether the Northwestern football team can have a union won’t matter unless the players want a union.  The latter question will be resolved soon.

The vote will be conducted on April 25.  For the yes-or-no proposition, a simple majority wins.

As recently explained by Alejandra Cancino of the Chicago Tribune, the vote possibly will be delayed pending full resolution of the question of whether the student-athletes are also employees.  The more likely outcome will be a sealing of the ballots until the legal issue has made its way through the court system.

So it’s possible that, after months of appeals resulting in a decision that the players can have a union, the votes will be counted and it will be determined that the players choose not to unionize.

Still, a ruling permitting unionization will allow other student-athletes at other private colleges to attempt to organize.  And the mere threat of union drives should prompt the NCAA to make changes that would make players less likely to choose against a union.

Those changes could eventually impact the NFL’s free farm system in ways that could make the farm system something other than free.  Or which could prompt the NFL to launch its own developmental league.

17 responses to “Northwestern union vote coming in six days

  1. Let the private colleges hire whomever they wish to play football for them. They needn’t even make the pretense of their football players being students. The private schools can run a de facto developmental league for the NFL, free from NCAA edicts. Perhaps the NFL will want to fund it too

  2. If determined to be employees and available to unionize – watch all these guys become SHOCKED when their tax bill comes due.

    Employees are TAXED, just like the rest of us and considering what room/board/tuition and supplies are worth each year to these kids – it will be interesting to see them try and come up with the taxes on what all of that is worth. Each year.

    Beware what you ask for…..

  3. However…those 18 year-olds wanting to get paid right away may find it hard to make a team of players that weren’t drafted or were cut from an NFL or CFL squad. All those semi-pro and arena league players will be in the mix for roster spots too. The “unionized college athletes” might be asking for more than they can handle.

  4. Vote yes and watch your recruits drop to the bottom of the barrel and your really good coach at another school next year.

  5. They’ll be trying to pay taxes on over 6 figures worth of “compensation” they receive as “employees” of the university. Tuition, books, food, gear as players – it will EASILY go over 100k.

    They’ll also be filing as single without many, if any deductions so it’s going to be a full freight bill.

    Remember all those feel good stories about how little Jimmy got out of the inner-city because of football? How’s he going to come up with the tax money? Oh sure, some of them will “defer” until they “make it” in the NFL – right until they blow a couple of knees out and aren’t playing anywhere and on the hook for the taxes.

    It’s going to cause a lot of issues.

    It’s the very definition of “unintended consequences”.

  6. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the Northwestern players are asking to receive paychecks.

  7. If they do this I say negotiate payment and pull every single one of their athletic scholarships. You can work as a college football player if you have the grades and money to attend the school in the first. They want to be athletes, not just student athletes so take it full circle.

  8. mackcarrington says:
    Apr 19, 2014 5:38 PM
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think the Northwestern players are asking to receive paychecks.


    Scholarships along with equipment and the like are funded by the university. As students, it’s given to them as part of their student status. If they are granted employee status, that same very thing could be viewed as a business expense to Northwestern University – which is taxable. And because that’s taxable, Northwestern isn’t going to absorb it. They’re going to do what every other business does and pass it onto their employees (which is why you get W2s).

    So, when the bottom line comes up, all of these new employees are going to be on the hook for a few thousand dollars of taxes.

    My time at a major public university cost me over 20k a year when all was said and done. As a football player, I would imagine their scholarship (which isn’t a full ride, contrary to popular belief – but it covers like 90%) and other expenses go over 25k a year. Probably 30k. As a single male – they’re going to be taxed pretty harsh. I would expect them to owe quite a bit.

    There are a number of ways it could be handled – but most of them are at the cost of other sports. Which is what so many posters mean by “unintended consequences.”

  9. Actually, I never seen a train wreck but presented with one, I admit I will be rubbernecking.

    My problem is that only the football players are voting. It should be ALL athletes. And hopefully they will unionize and remove all doubts about unions and collegiate sports.

    If there is to be carnage, it should be broadcasted daily. Athletes complaining about everything as they get to be reclassified as employees of the school.

    And kudos for NU to allowing itself to be used as guinea pigs. This, as they get their expulsion from the NCAA.

  10. You really don’t think the Union leaders would take into consideration taxes?? You don’t think they would negotiate for that to be picked up by the school? Ultimately sports scholarships are wrong across the board and the quicker these situations come up the faster we get rid of this remarkable symbol of greed. Anybody who thinks these athletic directors and college presidents don’t belong in jail is drinking the fox news kool-aid.

  11. I hope these players also think with the money from bowls and the tournament will not go only to them. Where will the line form for all the other college sports?? Don’t think they would like a slice of the pie??

  12. I think in the long run, this is going to be a mixed bag for college players. Sure, they’ll make some money (especially at the big programs), but there are an awful lot of guy who have scholarships and are only drawing a few thousand players a game. Those programs are not going to be willing to pay your way, and pay you cash

    But for comedic value, it would be one of the funnier things I can remember if after all of this drama, they decide to vote it down. VW plant all over again

  13. Some of the posters here are laboring under the misconception that the private schools’ paid football players and athletic program would fall under Title IX. It would not. The private schools’ commercial football programs would be free from Title IX, as Title IX was about sex discrimination in college education.

    Private universities could easily eliminate all other athletic programs and all athletic scholarships, only to focus on being a sponsor of a commercial football enterprise. Academic scholarships would be unaffected.

    The more I think about it, the more I like it. Now, all the soccer, volleyball, fencing and aquatics athletes will have to go to public schools. A few of the competitive private universities could sponsor minor league baseball and basketball teams. There would be nothing to prevent the paid athletes from enrolling in their sponsors’ school or any other, on their own dime, if they were so motivated.

  14. All these comments about paying taxes on scholarships is a lot of BS. Scholarships, books, room and board have always been considered grants and have never been taxed. It would take an act of Congress to change it.
    If scholarships now become taxed, profits from football must also be taxed. The millions that now go to the universities will no longer be tax free.

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