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Calls on NCAA & Congress to Grant Collective Bargaining Rights to Student Athletes

WHEREAS, the Chicago District of the National Labor Relations Board upheld the rights of Northwestern football players to unionize; and

WHEREAS, Northwestern University, the Big 10 Football Conference, and the NCAA has objected to the National Labor Relations Board's decision; and

WHEREAS, the rights of student athletes are an issue of national concern; and

WHEREAS, those opposed to unionization argue that football players are student athletes, not employees, defending the cherished ideal of amateurism, and assert that college scholarships are more than fair compensation for their services; and

WHEREAS, student athletes note that they are "faced with the serious risk of concussions and long-term injuries" and that their scholarships, room, and board are contingent upon their participation on the football field; and

WHEREAS, student athletic scholarships do amount to some level of compensation, but student athletes lack the power of negotiation as students in a high-pressured business environment of collegiate sports; and

WHEREAS, seeking the protection of collective bargaining, student athletes have made the strong case that they are employees based on the time they devote to the sport (at least 40 hours per week in season and from 12 to 30 hours in the off season); and they meet the common law definition of an employee as one who performs "services" for another and submits oneself to the "control" of another (a coach) in return for payment (a scholarship); and

WHEREAS, with respect to their recruitment, the time commitment required of them, the conditions under which they are expected to work, and scheduling accommodations, "big-time" collegiate sports players are treated as athletes first and as students second with little or no power to address the escalating demands on their time and their bodies; and

WHEREAS, the right to collective bargain and unionization is a necessary consequence of the evolution of collegiate sports into a billion dollar industry, giving student athletes meaningful control over the conditions in which they train, practice, and play, as well as establishing and maintaining high standards for coaches as educators.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP calls upon the full National Labor Relations Board to adopt the ruling of its Chicago regional director with respect to the unionization of college athletes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP demand that the NCAA revise its policies to require that colleges and universities provide scholarships to allow student-athletes that fully cover their education and living expenses until they receive a conferred degree from the sponsoring educational institution; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP call upon the Congress of the United States and the legislatures of the several states to enact appropriate legislation to that end.