Evanston, IL, United States (4E Sports) – Speaking for the first time, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has urged his players to vote against forming a union later this month.
After conferring with university lawyers, Fitzgerald broke his silence and addressed the topic about Northwestern players’ plan to unionize.
Former quarterback Kain Colter filed a petition with the NLRB to unionize. The regional director of Chicago’s National Labor Relations Board office ruled last month that players are employees of the school and have the right to unionize.
Northwestern is appealing the ruling to the national NLRB office while players will vote April 25 whether to form a union.
“I believe it’s in their best interests to vote no,” Fitzgerald said after team practice. “With the research that I’ve done, I’m going to stick to the facts and I’m going to do everything in my power to educate our guys.”
“Our university is going to do that. We’ll give them all the resources they need to get the facts,” he added.
“Right now, we have great protocols in place, and we haven’t been forced to do that by any third party,” Fitzgerald said. “I know our guys trust me. I’ve been pretty clear with my support.”
Several older Northwestern players voiced their opposition to a union, while maintaining that changes must be made to help college athletes. They said the union debate has been a distraction.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian said unionizing might hurt the Wildcats in their goal of winning the Big Ten.
“I think a lot of guys feel the same as I do,” said senior center Brandon Vitabile, a member of the team’s leadership council. “Coach Fitz has done everything in his power and been a voice for us and he has gotten changes.”
Northwestern must file its request to appeal with the national NLRB office by Wednesday. CAPA then has seven days to file a rebuttal brief. The NLRB then decides whether it will consider the appeal.
If the NLRB considers the appeal, ballots from the April 25 vote will be impounded until a decision is made.