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Northwestern 'confident' in athlete union appeal

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:00 p.m. CDT

EVANSTON (AP) — Northwestern University says it is exploring legal options as a group tries to unionize college athletes at the school.

A federal agency is considering Northwestern's appeal of a ruling that said scholarship athletes are essentially university employees — and have the right to unionize, bargain collectively and even strike.

The school put out a statement Thursday, after the College Athletes Players Association likened the appeal to a castle built on sand. Northwestern said the university is "confident" the National Labor Relations Board will "decide the appeal on its merits."

Northwestern insists the ruling by the director of the board's Chicago regional office was flawed and the appeal should go ahead. The college says scholarship athletes are primarily students, not school employees.

The agency's five-member board is reviewing the initial ruling.

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