The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 5, 2014

Union says other college teams in play

(Continued)

CHICAGO —

"We've been contacted and are taking every one of them seriously," he said. "It's a process, a long process. But leaders of teams across the country have reached out and said we support it and are interested in looking at this for our team."

Complicating any effort for the steelworkers is that the NLRB ruling only applies to private schools like Northwestern. Public schools are covered by state labor laws, and in some states public employees are not allowed to unionize at all.

Huma and the union have been working since 2000 to try and organize college players. Their goal, they say, is not to get schools to pay players but to give them bargaining rights over issues that affect their lives and could affect their health.

It wasn't, however, until after they had collected union authorization cards from a majority of players on the Northwestern football team in January that organizers announced the effort to unionize the team. Huma said Friday that was part of a strategy not to alert the NCAA or the schools in advance about any union activity.

"They've been very out front all along that they don't want any change like this," said Huma, a former UCLA linebacker.

Bohannon said he learned about the NCPA last summer from a former Wisconsin player, Jared Berggren, who suggested he get on the organization's email list. That led to his participation, beginning in the fall, in a weekly conference call with organizers and players from other schools, he said.

" It was just an hour weekly conference call and we talked about different issues that we found with the NCAA, what we can do going forward as student-athletes to help," Bohannon said.

Bohannon, who is in his final year of eligibility, said he wasn't necessarily advocating for a union but wanted athletes to have more rights.

"Being a Republican, I don't like the whole unionization thing, I don't think that's probably the best option," he said. "But right now it's really, there's not many other options for our student-athletes, so I think it got the necessary publicity that we need, and hopefully the NCAA listens to some of our voices."

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