Northwestern football players take step toward forming union

NU football players take step toward forming union

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

For the first time in the history of college sports athletes are looking to join a union. The first group to take that step is the Northwestern University football team.

Kain Colter and his teammates love playing football at Northwestern, but they want fair and just treatment from the NCAA.

"We are not taking these measures out of any mistreatment from Northwestern, however we recognize the need to eliminate unjust NCAA rules that create physical, academic and financial hardships for college athlete across the nation," Colter said.

Colter is the face of the push to join a union, particularly the new College Athletes Players Association backed by the steel workers union.

United Steelworkers filed a petition signed by an anonymous majority of current Wildcats to the National Labor Relations Board in an effort to be viewed not just as college athletes but as employees.

"Right now we don't have a voice and have our best interest in mind," Colter said.

If the labor board agrees that the Wildcats function as employees the university would be forced to deal with them as such.

That would give the players the ability to negotiate current and long term protection benefits and potential compensation.

"As far as my relationship with everybody at Northwestern, I hope they are proud of me. I hope they realize that I'm taking a stand not just for myself, not just for northwestern, but for student athletes across the nation to help right a wrong," Colter said.

Northwestern Vice President of Athletics Jim Phillips released a statement saying the university doesn't believe their players are employees and collective bargaining is not the proper method to address their concerns.

But the NFL Players Association released a statement this morning backing this first step in pursuit of basic rights and protections.

There is no time table for the labor boards hearing and decision.

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