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Players' bid to form college athletes union subject of federal hearing

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

The National Labor Relations Board is holding a hearing in Chicago Wednesday to review the question: are college athletes employees or not?

The federal agency's approval is necessary for the College Athletes Players' Association to move forward in its bid to become the first union for college athletes. The CAPA's movement is being spearheaded by Northwestern football players and just-graduated Wildcat quarterback Kain Colter.

The NCAA and the Big Ten have argued that college athletes do not meet the legal definition of employees, and in turn do not have the legal right to unionize.

Per the Associated Press, United Steelworkers is paying the legal bills necessary for the CAPA -- currently the National College Players Association -- to make its argument before the NLRB. The NCPA filed its petition with the agency in January.

If approved, Colter said the CAPA would give athletes the ability to more successfully lobby for multi-year scholarships, greater player safety, and increased medical coverage.

"A lot of people will think this is all about money; it's not," Colter told the Chicago Tribune after the January announcement. "We're asking for a seat at the table to get our voice heard."

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