Reports: Northwestern football players overwhelmingly vote to reject unionization

posted at 6:41 pm on April 25, 2014 by Guy Benson

Go back and read Allahpundit’s primer on the regional NLRB’s (immediately appealed) March ruling that Northwestern University football players are employees of the school, and are therefore entitled to form a union.  That decision precipitated today’s vote — the official results of which likely won’t be known for months, or even years, due to a lengthy anticipated appeals process.  The unionization push has become a hot topic in sports media and a political lightning rod.  The university, coaching staff, and many former players have come out strongly against the idea, and some current members of the team have suggested that they weren’t painted an accurate picture of coming attractions when they were pressured to sign the petition that set all of this into motion.  Although the formal tally remains shrouded in mystery, several Chicago-based reporters with ties to NU are reporting that the vote was lopsided:

If that’s an accurate snapshot, the team said “no thanks” to unionization by a decisive four-to-one margin. The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein says that estimate sounds about right, based on what he’s hearing:

That result would effectively shut down this issue at Northwestern for the foreseeable future, but the hype around the story and the NLRB’s initial decision all but guarantees the debate over college athletes’ collective bargaining “rights” and compensation will rage for quite some time.  As a proud Northwestern alum, I’m pleased by today’s apparent outcome and selfishly hopeful that the program can put this entire controversy in the rear-view mirror.  Talk about a corrosive off-field distraction.  Northwestern was, in some respects, an unfortunate test case for this effort, given its top-ranked FBS player graduation rate.  The Wildcat program prides itself in doing things the right way, and taking the concept of “student-athletes” seriously.  When push came to shove, it seems as though a roiling, politics-laden fight is not what a bunch of teenagers signed up for when they committed to play football at NU.  Good riddance to the union.  All that being said, much of the union backers’ stated agenda is unobjectionable, and I hope that this experience might serve as a catalyst for some important reforms.  Former Northwestern quarterback CJ Bacher (not to be confused with Kain Colter, the polarizing face of the United Steelworkers-backed unionization movement) has written extensively and thoughtfully about why many of the “demands” are legitimate, while warning against opening the Pandora’s box of unionization.  The current team evidently took those admonitions to heart, deciding against testing the laws of unintended consequences.  If this firestorm ends up bringing about needed changes in big-time college sports without transforming teams into collections of unionized mercenaries, that’s a win-win in my book.  Speaking of winning, yesmore of that, please.  I’ll leave you with a burst of school spirit:

Go ‘Cats.

UPDATE – Northwestern’s official statement, which doesn’t address today’s outcome, but strikes something of a relieved tone:


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I imagine the pre-vote locker room talk from the coach went something like this: “You work as a union, you run as a union.”

Lawdawg86 on April 25, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Nortwestern alum, eh, Guy? So that’s what’s wrong with you. You know too much purple in your life messes your head up. Just ask Minnesota Vi-queens fans.

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 6:48 PM

NLRB election results are public information. Many times, there’s a crowd at the count itself.

Dan Tanna on April 25, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Unionization of college sports could have two very profound results:
1)As employees their “pay” would become taxable income.
2)Title IX that forces schools to have fair treatment of women in college sports could be blown out of the water.

CW on April 25, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Why would it take months, or years, to count less than 100 votes?

cozmo on April 25, 2014 at 6:51 PM

cozmo, the votes are counted. The official results are being withheld until the process plays out, so these are just media estimates, based on sources.

Guy Benson on April 25, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Just as well. By now the political bankruptcy of organized labor in the US has become plain to every serious observer of American politics. Unions in this country were co-opted by petty bourgeois reform politics decades ago, and have ever since been objectively opposed to real socialist progress, no matter what subjective feelings of support some individual members may have.

Trotsky on April 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Suhweet- now vote out the quarterback that started all of this foolishness

whatabunchoflosers on April 25, 2014 at 7:06 PM

Guy Benson on April 25, 2014 at 6:54 PM

About how many years before he appeals are exhausted? Will these particular players be retired from the pros by the time the vote count is revealed?

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

he…the… typo.

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Good for them!

Annielou on April 25, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Reports: Northwestern football players overwhelmingly vote to reject unionization

…their IQ’s are substantially higher than at most schools too!…

KOOLAID2 on April 25, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Good!

gophergirl on April 25, 2014 at 7:19 PM

It doesn’t matter… The door has been flung open and the union will try it on every campus until they get the win. Then they’ll start getting the others to comply.

Skywise on April 25, 2014 at 7:21 PM

So when do Federal troops show up and “suggest” a re-vote?

ThePrez on April 25, 2014 at 7:24 PM

I can’t help but think of the underfed and famished players alone in their unheated rooms, forced to spend their reproductive health benefits on a few bags of Cheetos just to keep going.

BL@KBIRD on April 25, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Skywise on April 25, 2014 at 7:21 PM

This is why I’d like to see the hard numbers on that vote made public, particularly if it was a resounding ‘NO’. It might persuade other players to think twice about signing a petition to go union if they understand that these guys regretted signing overwhelmingly.

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:26 PM

NLRB election results are public information. Many times, there’s a crowd at the count itself.

Dan Tanna on April 25, 2014 at 6:49 PM

The NLRB is reviewing the case(I think the original decision was by a regional director). So the election isn’t official until the review is complete.

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 7:26 PM

About how many years before he appeals are exhausted? Will these particular players be retired from the pros by the time the vote count is revealed?

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Chicago Tribune says “could take months”.

No Northwestern players are good enough to be pros :)

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 7:29 PM

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Thanks, kcewa. That’s exactly the clarification I needed.

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM

I can’t help but think of the underfed and famished players alone in their unheated rooms, forced to spend their reproductive health benefits on a few bags of Cheetos just to keep going.

BL@KBIRD on April 25, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Rooms?

Aren’t they forced to sleep in campus alleys?

Bitter Clinger on April 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Having dealt with unions for many years I cannot begin to tell you what a bad idea this would be. Imagine professors having to argue with union shop stewards when Biff gets a grade he doesn’t like. Or what if they object to the color of the uniforms. Or the mascot. Or the team name. And what happens when the team goes on strike…..right before the national championship game! Bad idea, especially when most of them would not have gotten into college as a janitor without their sports chops. Again, bad idea.

devan95 on April 25, 2014 at 7:31 PM

No Northwestern players are good enough to be pros :)

kcewa on April 25, 2014 at 7:29 PM

lol!;)

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:31 PM

I know this is going to sound incredibly naive, and I admit that the ramifications of unionized college football players probably is multiples above my comprehension level given how little I’ve looked into this, but… how would one secure a scholarship for a job?

BKeyser on April 25, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Having dealt with unions for many years I cannot begin to tell you what a bad idea this would be. Imagine professors having to argue with union shop stewards when Biff gets a grade he doesn’t like. Or what if they object to the color of the uniforms. Or the mascot. Or the team name. And what happens when the team goes on strike…..right before the national championship game! Bad idea, especially when most of them would not have gotten into college as a janitor without their sports chops. Again, bad idea.

devan95 on April 25, 2014 at 7:31 PM

The faculty already receives intense pressure from the administration to give ‘Biff’ a passing grade even if he hasn’t earned it and look the other way when conduct occurs that would see any other student on the Dean’s carpet. Sports programs are considered good for the school in terms of draw and donations from alumni. Add a union to deal with, a shop steward, as you suggested, and the environment becomes nearly untenable and unmanageable for faculty.

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:39 PM

So, if college football teams are unionized, union dues become perpetual funds for the DNC too, right?

31giddyup on April 25, 2014 at 8:06 PM

See you in Evanston in September, Guy Benson.
Cal has a few players in the NFL.

MichaelGabriel on April 25, 2014 at 8:07 PM

I think its closer to home than any kind of political statement by the players.

It was probably something like this:

“Just ask your uncles, cousins, and grandparents how being unionized worked out for them”

BobMbx on April 25, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Reports: Northwestern football players overwhelmingly vote to reject unionization

A little surprising. But then, they did not get into Northwestern through the efforts of unions.

On the other hand, I think that the college years are probably the peak liberal years for most students, immersed as they are in a PC propaganda and indoctrination machine, and the ignorance and idealism of youth. So I wouldn’t have been, and still won’t be surprised, if it goes the other way.

farsighted on April 25, 2014 at 8:28 PM

First VW and now this! Oy!

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2014 at 9:14 PM

Lose the NCAA, start a farm league. I know, but I can dream, can’t I?

LastRonin on April 25, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Although the formal tally remains shrouded in mystery

The results are sealed until after a court hearing, sometime in the future.

“Reports” are totally bogus. Although if you believe the “reports,” you can weave an entire column out of the “results” of the “reports.”

I’ve been involved in many union elections. When a court orders the results sealed, we didn’t even look at the ballots – just stuffed them in an envelope and got the notary to stamp and sign them. We had no possible idea of the outcome until the stay was lifted. I don’t see why this would be any different.

notropis on April 25, 2014 at 10:35 PM

One in the same

I love the illiteracy of sports reporters. Dude, you make a living from writing or speaking English. It’s “One AND the Same.” “One IN the Same” doesn’t even make sense. Jeez.

notropis on April 25, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Of course, these same “sports reporters” insist on saying “Pacers verse the Hawks.” The word, however you want to abbreviate it, is “versus.” Two Effing syllables. Not “verse.” Not “vurse.” “Versus.”

The second stupidest major in any college is journalism (Elementary Education is first). The stupidest journalism major is a sports journalist. And most “analysts” were too stupid to get a journalism degree – they just played a few failed years in the pros.

notropis on April 25, 2014 at 10:51 PM

VW vote have any bearing on this one?

Atilla on April 25, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Not true! One of America’s greats, Agasi was from Northwestern if I remember correctly. I think his brother played at Michigan. Sounds negative to a very high class, high graduation rate school and I am surprised that no other Big Ten’s have given you the bop. Go Buckeyes!!

AReadyRepub on April 26, 2014 at 12:02 AM

Unions in college sports suck, but so does the socialism of NCAA athletics. First of all , college athletes need to be compensated in cash plus their scholarships. Secondly, since pro sports treat college teams as farm teams, it is not beyond rational to suggest that the pro teams contribute to the college system.

koolbob on April 26, 2014 at 12:09 AM

About how many years before he appeals are exhausted? Will these particular players be retired from the pros by the time the vote count is revealed?

thatsafactjack on April 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

I’ll give you the exact day the vote will be released, assuming the media estimates are right – the day after a non-DemocRAT takes the Presidential oath of office.

Steve Eggleston on April 26, 2014 at 1:13 AM

Too bad. Unionization would be comical.

David Blue on April 26, 2014 at 5:13 AM

“All that being said, much of the union backers’ stated agenda is unobjectionable…”

Sure, that’s what they say now while they’re on the outside looking in. Once they get in the door…

NavyMustang on April 26, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Yeah, it will take months to work through the process. The process of the union whining to the NLRB which will then bring pressure to bear on the university, etc, etc, etc.

NavyMustang on April 26, 2014 at 6:21 AM

I’m incredibly disappointed.

Murphy9 on April 26, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Sanity prevails (at least for the moment)
-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkkIwO_X4i4

diogenes on April 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM

I heard one expert on Bill Bennett’s show say that the players would have to pay income tax on their $250K education. That’s scary enough but when they leave with a diploma and can’t read, it’s tragic.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Not as simple as it seems. How do you regulate the acceptance criteria for different schools if all players are in the “union”? How do you account for the different costs for each school? The questions are numerous. If this is just pressure on the NCAA to get real with their rules, be careful not to allow the unionization to take over. Un intended consequences always come back to bite you.

Americanman28 on April 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM

So college football players rejecting unionization is a big deal. Millions of Americans out of work year after year and the criminality of our “leadership” is just soooo boring, and besides, it’s the weekend and nothing important ever happens on weekends.

Got it!

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 26, 2014 at 1:55 PM

I know this is going to sound incredibly naive, and I admit that the ramifications of unionized college football players probably is multiples above my comprehension level given how little I’ve looked into this, but… how would one secure a scholarship for a job?
BKeyser on April 25, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Count me naive too. Good question!

Nana on April 26, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Another opportunity for real men to lament the lefty feminization of the sports world, where sportswriters and commentators are increasingly butt-boy liberals, and not educated writers who observe sports. Rick Telander queered the deal up, as usual, and the rest of the Chicago sportswriters are either gay or Obama-dopes.

Jaibones on April 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

I heard one expert on Bill Bennett’s show say that the players would have to pay income tax on their $250K education.

Cindy Munford on April 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Bingo.

Jaibones on April 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

kcewa – There are currently a dozen ‘Cats in the NFL.

MichaelGabriel, here’s to a repeat of last year’s NU/Cal outcome in Berkeley! I was at that game & may be in Evanston for the opener.

Guy Benson on April 26, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Unions in college sports suck, but so does the socialism of NCAA athletics. First of all , college athletes need to be compensated in cash plus their scholarships. Secondly, since pro sports treat college teams as farm teams, it is not beyond rational to suggest that the pro teams contribute to the college system.

koolbob on April 26, 2014 at 12:09 AM

Nope. The college sports programs need to go back to being extra-curricular activities that students do in their spare time. I’m not even comfortable with publicly owned colleges giving away free scholarships. Public colleges receive tax money to educate not entertain. The private schools and their athletes can work out whatever money relationship they wish.

If system as it stands is to remain for some crazy reason the students should happily accept their free education and the profits should be reinvested in the schools. That would either A) save the taxpayers some money or B) cut tuition payments a good deal.

As for the college system getting money from the pro teams for acting as a free farm system, that sounds interesting. I guess I can support that when colleges give money to the high schools that act as their free farm system. Then the high schools can give some cash to the youth leagues that provide them a free farm system. Yeah, this is a silly statement.

Dawnsblood on April 26, 2014 at 11:40 PM

“How many people here went to what might be called a ‘bad high school’?” [Some NW footballers raise their hands] “Keep that in mind when you watch this, especially anyone wanting to teach or coach at a high school when they graduate from NW.” [pops in a copy of Waiting for Superman] “OK, *now* who wants to be in a union?”

hurricane567 on April 27, 2014 at 3:35 AM