Two months after a federal labor board ruled that Northwestern’s football players could form a union, a union for public workers in North Carolina has voted to allow scholarship student-athletes at the state’s 17 public universities to join as state employees, the Associated Press is reporting.
The State Employees Association of North Carolina, which represents teachers, corrections officers, health care workers and others working for state agencies, will allow student-athletes to join provided they pay the $9 monthly membership dues.
The North Carolina union’s decision would not require a team vote and is based on an individual athlete’s choice on whether to join. It is unclear if the union’s invitation would be open to just scholarship athletes, or walk-ons — or whether there are NCAA rules preventing the athletes to be classified as state employees. There is no minimum number of athletes needed to join before SEANC can represent them in negotiations.
“What the group has definitively decided is to change our own membership rules to allow them to join,” SEANC spokeswoman Toni Davis said Monday.
“And everything beyond that is really in a planning and development stage.”
It’s unclear what benefits the student-athletes would reap should they join the union, and athletes at private schools such as Duke and Wake Forest would not be allowed to join. North Carolina is one of two states (along with Virginia) that prohibits state public employees from collective bargaining. The 55,000-member union “lobbies legislators on issues ranging from pay raises to retirement benefits and health care coverage for public workers. It can also offer individual assistance to public employees on issues that arise at their jobs, though it does not offer legal representation in a grievance,” the AP reported.
“It is a membership-driven association so the members — in this case the student scholarship athletes — would let us know what their concerns are,” SEANC spokeswoman Toni Davis told the AP. “So we’re not coming to them saying we’re going to solve a set of problems what we’ve defined. We’re looking for the athletes to let us know how they would like us to help.”