EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Northwestern University's football players will cast ballots Friday on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes - a potentially landmark vote that will be kept sealed for months and possibly years.
The National Labor Relations Board said Thursday it will hear an appeal by Northwestern challenging the decision from a regional NLRB director who ruled the players are university employees and thus have the right to unionize. The board said the ballots will be impounded at least until it issues its decision later this year. If the case lands in court, it could be a far longer before the results of the vote are known.
The vote comes one day after leaders at the NCAA endorsed a dramatic proposal to give its biggest and most powerful member schools the autonomy to make decisions for its athletes, including more robust funding of scholarships, the ability to address health concerns and other key areas. Union supporters say they are seeking guaranteed coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players.