You may recall that last year in January 2014 the football players of Northwestern University filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to have an election on the formation of a union. The grant-in-aid players felt they were being taken advantage of and wanted representation via a union. The university argued that the players were not employees, they were students. The players argued they were employees and a regional director of the NLRA ruled they were “non-statutory” employees and ordered an election. One day before the election the university contested and asked for a review of the decision. The votes that were cast the next day were impounded.
After reviewing all the amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs the full National Labor Relations Board rendered a unanimous decision ”declining to assert jurisdiction over Northwestern University grant-in-aid scholarship football players and dismissing the representation petition.” In other words they said they wanted nothing to do with this case. They did not did not determine whether grant-in-aid scholarship players are employees under the Act, rather they said “this case would not effectuate the policies of the NLRA to promote stability in labor relations.” In other words this would not look good for us. These players will not stay long and will not be a good union.
The organization would have only had a potential impact on private colleges and not public universities. This might have put the colleges on an unequal footing. That would have been a very unpopular stance with fans so the NLRB decided not to decide.
So the college football season can now proceed without the threat of union organization and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, except maybe the players who saw playing as their job.