In the past, MMA was considered a niche sport, one with limited promotion and very little reach. Those who watched back in the 90s, especially when it came to the UFC, remember it could only be watched via rental after the live event was done. Not only that, events were few and far between ranging from three to six months between live events. That is no longer the case today, as proved with UFC 189: Mendes vs. McGregor and UFC 190: Rousey vs. Correia, where both pay-per-views buys are expected to be over a million each.
Not everyone is on the MMA bandwagon, even more so with UFC. There are many who try to find reasons not to like either the sport or the corporation. In this case, two unions seem to not like how the UFC fighters are treated, and they are working to unionize them. What’s ironic is these unions are the ones responsible for keeping UFC, or more importantly MMA in general, out of New York.
The unions wanting to unionize UFC fighters are the Teamsters Local 986 and the Culinary Worker’s Union Local 226, in which both are established in either New York and/or Las Vegas. According to Yahoo! Sports, they have taken it upon themselves to work towards organizing the UFC fighters into a union similar to other sports. Chris Griswold, the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 986, provided the following statement on their endeavor.
“We have been surprised to learn how poorly these professional fighters are treated in the UFC. We want to help them to improve conditions for themselves and raise standards for the sport.
“UFC fighters can set a new agenda for their sport and make it better by working with regulators, sponsors, investors, and other stakeholders. As our efforts did for workers in other industries, fighters united for change can make a huge difference.”
As for Culinary Workers Union Local 226 — the largest union in Las Vegas, Nevada, also made a statement pertaining to unionizing the UFC workers. Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the Secretary-Treasurer, provided the following.
“All workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Housekeepers, kitchen workers, and tens of thousands of other workers in Las Vegas have stood up together to fight for an opportunity to provide for their families. There is no reason UFC fighters cannot do the same.
“Our unions can bring more tools and resources to the table, including our relationships with other professional athletes’ unions. Mixed martial arts play a big part in the success of the Las Vegas tourism industry, and UFC fighters deserve to share in that success, too.”
The irony about these unions is the fact they are the ones keeping MMA out of New York. This in turn keeps UFC out of New York too, as reported by MMA Weekly. Dana White made this known during an interview with radio hosts Boomer and Craig on WFAN, answering their question on why MMA is not allowed in the state.
“It has nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts, of all things, it’s the Culinary Union that’s keeping us out of New York. They’re powerful guys here.”
Dana White believes the Culinary Union keeping MMA out of New York is part of a personal agenda they have against the Fertitta brothers, the principle owners of Zuffa (the organization that owns UFC). Along with UFC, the Fertitta brothers also own a number of casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, they are successful and non-union, two scenarios most unions don’t like to go together. Nevertheless, the aforementioned speculation does sound like a valid reason, but until proven true, it can only be taken as is.
[Image via Gracie Magazine]