Education Editorial: College Unions

Education Editorial: College Unions

When it seems that common sense has been assaulted with every potential weapon, a new and creative threat appears. A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board has declared that college athletes at private schools can unionize.

The issue seems to be a broad interpretation of the term employer. While the US Gymnastics Association and the U.S Figure skating Association allow athletes to be paid if the money is placed in a trust, the NCAA will strip students of amateur status if they are compensated in any way other than through scholarships.

Now it would naïve to think that college athletics is not big business. Its salaries resemble entertainment more than competitive debating societies. With unions will students now be recruited like professional players with perks awarded for success? Will players now attempt to negotiate work conditions with their coaches or develop a grievance procedure to appeal decisions that they don't like…playing time, preferred position, or room on or off campus?

While this ruling does not apply to public institutions…and can't apply in "right to work" states like Virginia…the slippery slope will be from "student athletes" to professional players. Virginia athletes often graduate at a higher rate than their non-athlete peers. You can forget those statistics with unionized teams…unless they bargain for degrees as a benefit.

If this ruling sticks, private colleges should raise money and go out and buy the best team that they can get to wear their school colors…and wait to hear, "I'm going to Disney World".

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