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College athletes can unionize, federal agency says

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks at a press conference on January 28 2014 at The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago Illinois. Citing what they deem as the NCAA's abdication of responsibility to protect athletes from injury, the College Athletes Association (CAPA) announced the creation of the new labor organization to represent college football and basketball players.
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Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter speaks at a press conference on January 28 2014 at The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago Illinois. Citing what they deem as the NCAA's abdication of responsibility to protect athletes from injury, the College Athletes Association (CAPA) announced the creation of the new labor organization to represent college football and basketball players.

In a ruling that could revolutionize college sports, a federal agency has given football players at Northwestern University the green light to unionize.

Wednesday's landmark ruling by a regional director of National Labor Relations Board means the players are deemed employees under federal law and so can create the nation's first college athletes' union.

Union lawyers argued the Big Ten school's football players are part of a commercial enterprise that generates hefty profits through their labor.

The NCAA, Big Ten Conference and the private school vehemently opposed the union drive. Northwestern argued that college athletes are students and can't be put in the same category as factory workers.

The ruling in Chicago by director Peter Ohr can be appealed to the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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