Topics: Labor Unions

Republicans file briefs against Northwestern athletes union

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Senate,Labor,NCAA,Northwestern University

Republicans in the both the Senate and the House filed a friend-of-the-court brief Thursday in the National Labor Relations Board case regarding the Northwestern University students who wish to form a college athletes union. The lawmakers came down strongly against allowing collective bargaining on campuses, as they have previously done.

"Congress never intended for college athletes to be considered employees covered by the [National Labor Relations] Act, and doing so is incompatible with the student-university relationship," the Republicans argued.

The legal brief maintains that: "The profound and inherent differences between the student-university and employee-employer relationship makes employee status unworkable both as a matter of law and in practice."

The brief was filed on behalf of Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn, Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Phil Roe, R-Tenn. The senators all serve on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where Alexander is the ranking Republican. The representatives all serve on the Education and the Workforce Committee, where Roe is chairman.

An NLRB regional director first said in March that the Northwestern University athletes had a right to unionize, which would be a historic first if it happens. The decision has been appealed by Northwestern University to the full NLRB board and the case is still pending.

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