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Lansing — Student athletes at public universities in Michigan would be prohibited from joining labor unions to negotiate for compensation and benefits under legislation the state House approved Tuesday.

The Republican-controlled House passed the student athlete union ban Tuesday on a 59-50 party-line vote. Independent Rep. John Olumba of Detroit was absent.

House Bill 6074 is largely a response to attempts by scholarship football players at Northwestern University in Illinois to become recognized as employees with the right to bargain collectively for compensation. Some student athletes argue that they are getting shortchanged while colleges make millions of dollars off them.

Rep. Al Pscholka, sponsor of the bill, said the legislation is a “proactive” stop to ensure that student athletes remain just students of a public university in Michigan.

“We should be sending the message to our student athletes that we want you to be students first,” said Pscholka, R-Stevensville.

Opponents contend the legislation will limit the ability of students to get medical insurance protections or flexibility in their scholarships.

“I’m not against some NCAA reforms. Believe me, I’m not a lackey for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). They ought to be making some changes,” Pscholka said.

The bill now heads to the Senate for the upper chamber’s consideration before the Legislature adjourns for the year on Dec. 18.

clivengood@detroitnews.com

(517) 371-3660

Twitter.com/ChadLivengood

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