Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 Calls On NSAC to Adopt MMA “Bill of Rights”
February 23, 2012
In yesterday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing, the Culinary Workers Union – who have long apposed the anti-union stance from Zuffa and Station Casino owner’s Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta – proposed the MMA “Bill of Rights” to the commission.
Here is the press release sent out yesterday after the hearing:
Today, the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 called on the Nevada Athletic Commission to adopt and enforce a “Bill of Rights for Professional Mixed-Martial Artists,” as a vital step toward protecting these athletes from abusive business practices and coercive contracts.
“Many athletes who compete in the sport of mixed-martial arts are subject to coercive contracts and exploitative business practices that are not allowed in professional boxing,” said Chris Serres, a research analyst with the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, an affiliate of UNITE HERE. “We call on the Nevada Athletic Commission to take a leadership role and push for the adoption of this `Bill of Rights” in every state where it is currently legal to hold mixed-martial arts events. If adopted and enforced, these ten rights would change the sport’s most egregious business practices.”
In testimony today before the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 outlined the following exploitative business practices in the sport of mixed-martial arts:
· Long-term , exclusivity contracts that bind athletes to a single promoter, in some cases indefinitely. These contracts make it more difficult for athletes to negotiate higher pay and diminish the incentive of smaller promoters to bid for talented fighters
· Limited control over image and likeness rights. Professional mixed-martial arts fighters must frequently forfeit future revenue streams from DVD sales, video games, clothing and other merchandise, even after retirement.
· Lack of financial transparency. Under the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (Ali Act), business promoters are required to make extensive financial disclosures to state athletic commissions. No such requirements govern MMA. As a result, fighters often have to negotiate in the dark and are unsure if they are being compensated fairly.
The “Bill of Rights for Professional Mixed Martial Artists” would grant mixed-martial artists similar protections currently afforded to professional boxers, who are already protected by a boxers’ Bill of Rights and the Ali Act. “There is no compelling reason why boxers are protected from exploitation, while mixed-martial arts athletes are not,” Serres said.
The Bill of Rights was inspired by conversations the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has had with more than 50 mixed-martial arts athletes, and their agents, across North America.
The Culinary Union’s testimony before the Nevada Athletic Commission is available online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/82443511/Culinary-Workers-Union-Local-226-testimony-before-the-Nevada-Athletic-Commission
A copy of the “Bill of Rights for Professional Mixed Martial Artists” is also available online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/82245038/MMA-Bill-of-Rights
Some interesting thoughts here, especially bringing up the highly debated Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (Ali Act) and how that would impact MMA if ever adopted. Others in MMA have pushed for similar rights, but none have succeeded thus far.
Whether some points are credible or not, you have to wonder how effective the Culinary Union’s efforts have been in the past few months, repeatedly targeting the UFC. If you recall, the union sent an email to the FTC supporting an investigation against the UFC and their business practices after they purchased Strikeforce from Silcon Valley Sports & Entertainment early in 2011. The FTC investigation was recently closed after determining no wrong-doing on the UFC’s part.