Questions abound about college athletes right to unionize - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Questions abound about college athletes right to unionize

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The courts are likely to decide what eventually becomes of the ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that college athletes can unionize. (Source: MGN) The courts are likely to decide what eventually becomes of the ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that college athletes can unionize. (Source: MGN)
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Q: What are the next steps in the process of appeal?

A: Most likely, Northwestern players will vote on whether or not to unionize. The results will be sealed pending the university's appeal to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC. If Northwestern refuses to bargain with the union, the case will go to a federal appeals court. Regardless of who prevails at that level, the process would continue until it reaches the Supreme Court.

Q: Will athletes in nonrevenue sports benefit from the ruling?

A: That is unclear. It may lead to universities breaking off the nonrevenue sports into a different category from those that produce profit.

Q: The ruling applies only to private colleges. Will state universities be able to unionize?

A: Even nonunion and right-to-work states have unions for state employees and teachers. Those unions bargain with the state over rights, benefits and compensation. If the ruling were upheld, a collective association of student-athletes could possibly form such a state-based union that would represent them.

Q: Would benefits, scholarships and compensation received by student-athletes be taxable?

A: Likely so. In an employee-employer relationship, anything of value the employer delivers to the employee qualifies as income. If student-athletes are allowed to unionize, and collective bargaining leads to discussions about compensation, the compensation will be taxable.

Sources: Donald Jackson, The New York Times, ESPN.com