Trevor Siemian opposes union

Former Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter explains what inspired him to lead the charge to unionize college athletes.

Northwestern's Trevor Siemian said Wednesday it was wrong for former quarterback Kain Colter and other players to explore unionization without first taking their concerns to their coach and administrators.

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

New quarterback Trevor Siemian said he's been "treated far better than I deserve" at Northwestern and is against unionization.

The school's football players are scheduled to vote later this month on whether to form a union to possibly bargain for better compensation, health insurance and work conditions. Siemian, a quarterback who will be a senior this fall, said during a conference call with reporters that players should have taken their concerns to coach Pat Fitzgerald and athletic director James Phillips before setting out to unionize.

"I'm treated far better than I deserve here," Siemian said. "Introducing a third party or somebody else, especially when our main goals when this began ... there were issues with the NCAA that we thought we could address, and [unionizing] was one of the ways to do it. Nothing had been exhausted from within the school. Myself included, nobody ever addressed Fitz or Dr. Phillips about these issues.

"Two of these guys that all of us have come here and trusted so much -- I've known Coach Fitz five or six years now -- to say I don't trust you enough to help us out addressing these changes isn't the right way to go."

Linebacker Collin Ellis called the move toward unionization a "distraction," telling ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg, "I am not in favor. I don't think it's the right move for the team. ... Originally, whenever people signed the cards, it was done with the idea that this wasn't going to be Northwestern vs. Northwestern. We thought this would be Northwestern vs. NCAA. It turns out that's not what it was, and we have a lot of guys that are very opinionated about really defending our university. ... I support change, but not at the expense of the university."

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board announced on March 26 that Northwestern's football players meet the definition of employees under federal law and are allowed to unionize. The players are set to vote by secret ballot April 25 on whether to form a union.

"I want to get back to football and let the union stuff handle itself," defensive tackle Chance Carter told ESPN.com. "I can't wait till the vote ... so we're done with it. Hopefully, it will be over with."

Northwestern on Wednesday asked the full NLRB to review and overturn the recent ruling by the NLRB Chicago regional director that the school's scholarship football players are employees and may be represented by a union.

Calling the decision by the regional director "unprecedented," Northwestern's brief states that the director overlooked or ignored key evidence that Northwestern presented showing that its student-athletes are primarily students, not employees. The appeal was filed Wednesday with the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

"Northwestern presented overwhelming evidence establishing that its athletic program is fully integrated with its academic mission, and that it treats its athletes as students first," the brief states. "Based on the testimony of a single player, the Regional Director described Northwestern's football program in a way that is unrecognizable from the evidence actually presented at the hearing."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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