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Northwestern responds to union

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Northwestern University and a group trying to unionize college athletes are trading accusations as the National Labor Relations Board considers the school's appeal of a federal ruling that scholarship athletes essentially are employees of the university and therefore have the right to unionize, bargain collectively and even strike.

The College Athletes Players Association, which wants to be recognized as a full-fledged union, filed a brief Tuesday urging the board to reject the university's appeal.

"Northwestern's entire position in this case is a castle built on sand," the group said.

Northwestern University released a statement Thursday in response to the union.

The university says the board ignored key evidence when it ruled the players are employees and can unionize. The union says that claim is false.

Northwestern calls the decision "flawed" because the players are primarily students, not employees.

Northwestern appealed the regional director's decision to the full National Labor Relations Board and says they will continue to explore all legal options.

School officials agree there are important issues regarding college athletics nationally and believe students should have a voice in those discussions.

The NLRB's full five-member board is reviewing the ruling of its Chicago-region director. The initial decision, if sustained, could become a precedent for other college athletes, although would only apply to private colleges and universities.

Tom Raum of the Associated Press contributed to this story

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