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Michigan Plans Vote On Whether To Ban Student Athlete Unions

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A bill to prevent college athletes from unionizing was sent to the Michigan House Wednesday for a vote.

The measure was introduced by Republican Rep. Al Pscholka and is intended to stop college athletes from forming labor unions, was sent to the House after the Michigan Competitiveness Committee voted 9-4 in favor of it, Detroit News reports.

The bill addresses an issue that arose last spring among Northwestern University’s football players. At the time, Northwestern players argued that they should have the power to bargain for compensation, medical benefits and care for injuries because they make the university millions of dollars in revenue just for playing.

The players even held two rounds of voting but the ballot boxes have been sealed as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) considers the university’s appeal of a March ruling by a regional director who decided that the players can unionize because they are university employees.

Pscholka’s explained in a press release, “House Bill 6074 effectively defines university athletes as students, by stating that an individual participating in intercollegiate athletics on behalf of a public university is not a public employee entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under active state collective bargaining laws.”

Pscholka noted in a statement, “The discussion of this issue really begs an answer to the bigger question: What is the intended purpose of college? Is it about making money, or is it about getting an education? Are student-athletes there to learn, guaranteeing the best shot at future success in life?  Or are they enrolled as employees, just there to pull in money and attention for the university?”

“They should have all the rights and responsibilities adults should have,” Rep. Kate Segal, a Democrat who represents Battle Creek, told Detroit News. “Why can’t we have the conversation and let students decide for themselves?”

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