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Statement by Alan K. Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, in Regard to Northwestern's Next Steps Prompted by the NLRB Decision

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March 28, 2014 | by Alan K. Cubbage

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University will ask the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., to review the March 26, 2014, decision of the NLRB regional director on the question of whether scholarship football student-athletes are employees under the National Labor Relations Act for purposes of collective bargaining.

Northwestern believes the decision overlooked or completely ignored much of the critical testimony supporting the University’s position that student-athletes are not employees of Northwestern, and the regional director also applied incorrect legal standards.

In the meantime, we will follow established NLRB procedures.

Northwestern considers its students who participate in NCAA Division I sports, including those who receive athletic scholarships, to be students, first and foremost. We believe that participation in athletic events is part of the overall educational experience for those students, not a separate activity.

Unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address the concerns these students are raising. The life of a student-athlete is extremely demanding, but the academic side and the athletic side are inextricably linked.

As for the NLRB process and timing:

  • The University will file a request for review with the full board in order to appeal the regional director’s decision. The University’s request is due on April 9. The union’s brief in opposition is due seven days later, on April 16. 
  • In the meantime, the regional director will schedule an election within 25 to 30 days after the date of his decision.
  • We anticipate that during that same time period the board will rule on whether it will grant review of the regional director’s decision. If it does grant review, it will set a briefing schedule for both parties to submit briefs. The board also can invite interested parties to submit briefs on the matter.

We cannot now predict the timing of the briefing process or the timing of an anticipated decision on the merits by the full board.