Siemian on Northwestern union: 'It's not even an issue now'

Siemian on Northwestern union: 'It's not even an issue now'
June 23, 2014, 11:00 am
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Vinnie Duber

While legally, there's still mystery surrounding what will be the final result of the Northwestern unionization attempt, it appears the Northwestern football team itself has put the whole thing to bed.

The university is still appealing the ruling of the National Labor Relations Board that its football players qualify as employees (making them eligible to unionize), and the results of a team vote on whether or not to officially form a union have not been released (and won't be until the school's appeal is over with in one way or another). But in an interview with ESPN, quarterback Trevor Siemian — who was publicly against players forming a union — indicated that the team has put the issue behind it.

When asked how differing opinions during the process would affect the team during the upcoming season, Siemian said it wouldn't at all.

"I think it was tough to say going through it all when it happened," Siemian told ESPN.com's Josh Moyer. "But I actually think, looking back, I think it was good for us in a sense — just for guys talking about things that matter to us and guys had beliefs one way or another and overcoming all that. It was kind of a point for us to rally around and get over. And, looking back now, our guys were so mature handling that whole ordeal. It’s not even an issue now. I think it’ll help us out in the long-term."

[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern: New video board coming to Ryan Field this year]

It's interesting to hear Siemian laud the union fight not as a step forward in the shakeup of college athletics or as a move toward better representation for college athletes but as more of a team-building exercise. To hear him say "it's not even an issue now" could indicate that any unionization attempt by these Northwestern players is over, though it's possible he was very specifically referring to the differences in opinion among teammates. This was the only question in the interview regarding the unionization attempt.

Siemian wasn't the only one who expressed reservations about forming a union. Offensive lineman Brandon Vitabile said this offseason that "change wouldn't happen" at Northwestern because of how well the players were already treated.

Not only was Siemian not in favor of forming the union, but he said that a majority of his teammates shared that opinion. That was surprising news following all the hubbub surrounding ex-Wildcat quarterback Kain Colter and his attempt to get his former teammates to unionize. Current Cats did fill out union cards, which spurred the NLRB's hearing of the case and eventual ruling.

But apparently, "it's not even an issue now."