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Statement by Alan K. Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, in Regard to NLRB Election

Statement by Jim Phillips, Vice President for Athletics and Recreation
Following the vote Friday by Northwestern University football players on a union

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Today, the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has conducted an election, giving Northwestern University’s scholarship football players an opportunity to vote by secret ballot on whether they wish to be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA). However, because the NLRB yesterday granted Northwestern’s request for review of the decision by the Chicago regional director, the election ballots have been impounded by the NLRB and will not be counted until the NLRB review process is completed.

Northwestern is pleased that the National Labor Relations Board granted Northwestern’s request for review. As the NLRB order stated, Northwestern’s request “raises substantial issues warranting review.”

Northwestern will now prepare its brief on the merits of the case to the NLRB. A timetable for the case to be heard has not yet been determined. In all likelihood, the process will take some time, and it could be months before the board issues its decision on whether Northwestern’s scholarship football players are students or employees.

Allegations that union supporters have made that Northwestern engaged in unfair labor practices during the election campaign simply are not true. During the period leading up to the election, Northwestern conducted its campaign in a lawful and appropriate manner consistent with NLRB rules and guidelines. Northwestern has stated its case clearly and consistently, explaining why it does not believe unionization is the appropriate mechanism for its scholarship football players to achieve their goals and objectives. The University has provided the players with information about the NLRB election process and has responded to claims made in the union’s election campaign propaganda. But -- and I want to emphasize this -- Northwestern has not engaged in any unfair labor practices during the period leading up to the NLRB election that was conducted today.

Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are students first and foremost, not employees. We believe the recent decision by the NLRB regional director was flawed and overlooked or ignored key evidence that Northwestern presented supporting that position.

We agree that there currently are important issues regarding college athletics nationally and that students should have a voice in those discussions. However, we believe that a collective bargaining process at Northwestern would not advance the discussion of these topics, in large part because most of the issues being raised by the union are outside the purview of Northwestern.

Northwestern is proud of our students for raising these issues. Northwestern teaches its students to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Our student-athletes already have a strong voice at Northwestern via a Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Leadership Council for the football team. We have worked with our students in the past to address these issues and we will continue to do so. 

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