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Northwestern punter says school threatened to take away benefits if players unionized

Northwestern's unionization fight is back in the spotlight again, due to the airing of an Al Jazeera documentary about NCAA changes. The Al Jazeera documentary team sat down with Northwestern punter Chris Gradone around the time of the vote, and Gradone — who should be NU's starting punter this season — reportedly leveled some pretty strong allegations against the school.

http://twitter.com/tomfarrey/status/480494937406840832

If true — a big IF — that's not only a pretty terrible thing for the university to say, but also a potential labor violation. First and foremost, NU doesn't need to take away an of the benefits it gives players, and it probably wouldn't, given that taking away basic benefits would be a major recruiting disadvantage. Moreover, blackmailing players into joining a union would be a very, very bad look.

There could be legal implications, as well. If the vote fails, CAPA could protest that this constitutes a threat before the vote, which is illegal (the employer can only offer "facts" in trying to convince the athletes to vote no).

Northwestern declined to comment on this quote. However, in April, Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage responded to allegations of wrongdoing:

Allegations that union supporters have made that Northwestern engaged in unfair labor practices during the election campaign simply are not true. During the period leading up to the election, Northwestern conducted its campaign in a lawful and appropriate manner consistent with NLRB rules and guidelines.