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Michigan Takes Step to Ban College Athlete Unions

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In April, football players at Northwestern cast a historic vote to determine if they would unionize. Student-athletes in Michigan may never get that chance.

Michigan's House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday that bans student-athletes at the state's public universities from joining labor unions to negotiate for compensation and other benefits. According to The Detroit News, Michigan's Republican-controlled House passed the student athlete union ban on a 59-50 party-line vote. One representative was absent.

The bill is largely a response to Northwestern players' attempt to unionize — a decision that, despite April's vote, is still awaiting a ruling. Some student-athletes argued that they were being used by the university to make money, while not being compensated. The union seeking to represent Northwestern's players argued that football duties are unrelated to the school's educational mission, a claim the university denies.

"There is overwhelming evidence that intercollegiate athletics are an integral aspect of the educational mission of Northwestern and other private and public universities," the school said.

Back in Michigan, Rep. Al Pscholka, a sponsor of the bill, says the legislation is a "proactive" measure to ensure that student-athletes remain "students" at public universities, not employees.

"We should be sending the message to our student-athletes that we want you to be students first," Pscholka told The Detroit News.

The bill's opponents say the legislation will hurt the ability for student-athletes to get medical insurance protection or flexibility in their scholarships.

“I’m not against some NCAA reforms," Pscholka said. "Believe me, I’m not a lackey for the NCAA. They ought to be making some changes.”

The bill now goes to the Michigan Senate for consideration.

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RELATED: Northwestern Football Players Cast Historic Union Vote

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