RALEIGH, WAKE COUNTY -

A North Carolina union that advocates for better benefits for public workers will allow scholarship student-athletes at public universities to join as state employees.

The State Employees Association of North Carolina has approved the plan to offer membership to athletes at the state's 17 public campuses, which would include Atlantic Coast Conference members North Carolina and North Carolina State.

To join, the athlete would pay the $9 monthly dues paid by teachers, corrections officers and other state employees.

Charles Johnson, a member of the group's board of governors, says it is still developing specific plans for helping athletes.

The move comes nearly two months after a federal labor official ruled Northwestern football players could create the country's first union of college athletes and fit the definition of an employee.