Football scholarship athletes at Northwestern University go to the ballot box tomorrow to decide whether to recognize a union to bargain in their behalf. The vote follows a ruling by the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that student athletes are employees of the university.
If approved by the 76 potential voters on the Evanston, Ill. campus, the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) will then be empowered to bargain with the university on their behalf over issues ranging from the value of their scholarships to lifelong medical coverage for injuries suffered while playing for the school.
CAPA was founded by Ramogi Huma, a former college football player and now an advocate for student athletes, who has partnered with graduating Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter in pushing for unionization.
Northwestern officials have asked the full NLRB to overturn Regional Director Peter Sung Ohr's decision. If the NLRB decides to undertake such a review, the ballots would be impounded and not counted until a decision is reached.
Media representatives have been barred from the campus while the unionization push and final vote are taking place.
NOTE: The afternoon before the vote, the NLRB agreed to review the decision. Consequently, the players' ballots have since been impounded and will only be counted in the full NLRB endorses the ruling by Ohr.