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Judge Hearing Case Of Northwestern Football Players Union Formation

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Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter announcing the formation of the College Athletes Association (CAPA) A new labor organization to represent college football and basketball players.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter announcing the formation of the College Athletes Association (CAPA) A new labor organization to represent college football and basketball players. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (AP) — A federal agency has begun a hearing on a request by Northwestern University football players who are trying to form a first-of-its-kind college athletes union.

Wednesday’s hearing in Chicago is before the National Labor Relations Board, which would have to OK the team’s unionization bid.

A central question it must answer is whether college football players are employees. If they are, they’d have unionizing rights. The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference have argued college athletes aren’t legally defined as employees.

Northwestern’s outgoing senior quarterback, Kain Colter, announced the plans last month. United Steelworkers say they’re footing the legal bills for the effort.

If it’s given the go-ahead, Colter says the College Athletes Players Association would provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for greater financial security and improved safety.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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