War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

WASHINGTON (AP) The rhetoric is heating up between Northwestern University and a group that’s trying to unionize college athletes.

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

The College Athletes Players Association wants to be recognized as a full-fledged union. The group likens the Illinois school’s appeal to a castle built on sand – and the National Labor Relations Board should dismiss it.

Northwestern insists the pro-union 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 full five-member board is reviewing the initial ruling.