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Georgia Laws Stop Football Players From Unionizing

Posted on Apr 10, 2014

After two months in an appeal process, the College Athletes Players Association and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reached a resolution. College athletes can now be classified as employees.

The ruling made national news when Northwestern players received the right to form a union for the players. The NCAA’s model of amateur athletes is now in jeopardy.

In spite of the new ruling, labor laws in Georgia stop college athletes from forming a union. Georgia is a “right to work” state. That means that players are able to turn down the offer to unionize when a membership to a union is available. Additionally, Georgia state employees are forbidden to form a union. If players at a public university tried to form a union, they would be denied because would be technically considered employees of the state.

Northwestern has not fully accepted the ruling either. In a statement by the university, officials confirmed that they will appeal to the full NLRB. According to a statement they put out, they consider all of their student athletes to be students—not employees—first and foremost.

For Georgia college athletes, even a reversal on this decision will not impact their ability to unionize. Northwestern is a private university, so even if a Federal appeal upholds the ruling that players may unionize, the state ruling still takes precedence. That means in Georgia, the state labor laws still stand.

Comments from NCAA employees and legal team show that they are disappointed with this process. According to their public statements, they feel that the majority of NCAA athletes compete to enhance their college career, and because they are passionate about their sport. They do not feel that the majority of athletes compete to get a paycheck.

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