- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The president of the National College Players Association has filed a petition in Chicago seeking union representation for football players at Northwestern University.

For the first time in the history of college sports, Association President Ramogi Huma, backed by the United Steelworkers union, filed with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of an undisclosed number of Northwestern players, ESPN first reported.

“This is about finally giving college athletes a seat at the table,” said Mr. Huma, who created the NCPA in 2001. “Athletes deserve an equal voice when it comes to their physical, academic and financial protections.”

Mr. Huma told ESPN that the move to unionize players at Northwestern started with quarterback Kain Colter, who reached out to him last spring for help.

“Right now the NCAA is like a dictatorship. No one represents us in negotiations. The only way things are going to change is if players have a union,” Colter said.

For the NLRB to consider a petition, at least 30 percent of the members of a group serving an employer must sign union cards.

Mr. Huma said only that an “overwhelming majority” signed the union cards.

The NFL Players Association has already come out in support of the effort, via resolution passed by its Board of Player Representatives: “Resolved, that the NFLPA pledges its support to the National Collegiate Players Association (NCPA) and its pursuit of basic rights and protections for future NFLPA members,” NBC Sports reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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