Our current system is an inhumane joke. I think hat might be about to change though.
In a surprise move without precedent in the history of college sports, Northwestern University football players have petitioned to form a labor union.
“Something we talked to the players about – we said, look, we don’t know what the timeline is, there could be a number of appeals, and many of you could be gone,” said Ramogi Huma, a founder of the new College Athletes Players Association. “It’s possible that many of you will never directly benefit. But we said … if you believe it’s the right thing to do, then it’s a chance that no other college athlete’s had, to stand up in this area for not only future players at Northwestern, but future players across the nation.”
“And the response,” said Huma, “was just overwhelming.”
Huma filed the petition Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency responsible for enforcing and interpreting most private sector labor law. Huma also directs the National College Players Association, a non-union group that, as I’ve previously reported, has mounted increasingly aggressive challenges to the NCAA since Huma, an ex-UCLA linebacker, founded the group in 2001.
An NLRB spokesperson told Salon the agency will hold a hearing on the petition Feb. 7. That could be the first step in a multi-year, precedent-setting legal battle, as both Northwestern and the NCAA insist the athletes aren’t employees covered by the New Deal National Labor Relations Act. “I think it is likely that they will prevail,” said former NLRB chairman William Gould. But “the matter could take two to three years at a minimum,” given the “long and convoluted process that is embedded in American labor law, that the university will take full advantage of.”