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:

A copy of the “Bill of Rights for Professional Mixed Martial Artists” is also available online:

MMA Bill of Rights


Payout Perspective:

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.

10 Responses to “Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 Calls On NSAC to Adopt MMA “Bill of Rights””

  1. BrainSmasher on February 23rd, 2012 4:18 PM

    Anything the Culinary Union proposes should be thrown out imo. They have a grudge with Zuffa and what they are doing is borderline stalking. Do they really have any credibility left after the FTC throw out the case they requested? I have always said Unions are only good if you are in one and even that is short term. They are a killer to business’ and jobs. Also cause inflation to all those who are not in them. As you can see with this Union they overstep their boundary. They get power and use it to stalk and harrase companies that have nothing to do with their Union or the people they represent. They are trying to strong arm the UFC so they get their Union inStation Casinos. This is Mafia type shit.

  2. BrainSmasher on February 23rd, 2012 4:28 PM

    Also they want to make it illegal for the UFC to sign long term contracts. How is this better for the fighters? There have been many fighters benefit from long term deals. Elvis Sinosec won one fight and signed a long term deal. He never won another fight in the UFC losing 6 straight. Pedro Rizzo was the first big long term contract the UFC got bit on and they stopped doing long term deals for a while. He was getting 100K back when no one got paid that much and the UFC was locked into it for a long time when he wasnt worth anything close a couple fights into it.

    My point sis this isnt looking out for fighters it is trying to benefit rival promotions just to hurt the UFC. They dont want fighters to get paid equal pay. They want UFC to lose fighters. That is clear by how they go after long term contracts rather than the clause that allows the UFC to cut you before the contract is over.

  3. Matt C. on February 24th, 2012 1:53 AM

    So let me get this straight… this is the same Culinary Union that is at this very moment trying to keep MMA fighters from being able to fight legally in New York????

    “The Culinary Union’s parent company is UNITE HERE, which happens to be one of two groups lobbying in New York on mixed martial arts. The other is the lobbying firm Brown, McMahon & Weinraub, hired by Zuffa in 2007, as well as Global Strategy Group, a media-relations political consulting firm. While the lobbyists at Brown, McMahon & Weinraub work on pushing Zuffa’s case for MMA regulation in New York, UNITE HERE has been lobbying against the proposed bill to legalize mixed martial arts, Bill S01707A.”

    From here:

    These people have just made themselves look like the biggest idiots on the planet. They aren’t even trying to hide their true agenda anymore. I mean it can’t be anymore obvious what their true intentions are. Parading in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and claiming to be there in support of MMA fighter’s rights is a flat out disgrace when it’s obvious that is not what they are doing.

    Just like BrainSmasher said above this isn’t a Bill of Rights meant to protect fighters. This is a tool meant to hurt the UFC. Plain and simple.

  4. Matt C. on February 24th, 2012 2:01 AM

    I just have to go back over this one point because it blows my mind.

    About this comment from their press release:

    “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.”

    Who are these 50 mixed-martial arts athletes and their agents that the Culinary Workers Union talked to?

    How did these 50 mixed-martial arts athletes and their agents respond when the Culinary Workers Union told them why they were actively trying to keep MMA from being legalized in New York?

  5. The Fight Nerd | Friday Link Party – February 24, 2012 on February 24th, 2012 6:01 AM

    […] MMAPayout reports on the Nevada Culinary Workers Union calling on NSAC to adopt MMA “Bill of Rights” […]

  6. BrainSmasher on February 24th, 2012 4:37 PM

    Great point Matt C.

    Does it saw where those 50 fighters fight? There is like 100,000 fighters on the sherdog data base. I can get 50 fighters who i used to train with. Most of which are a hair aboive ametuer status. This guys should not be speaking on what rights UFC fighters get. Or any fighter for that matter. It is to easy to fight in MMA and be called a MMA fighter. For them to use a generic term like”50 fighters” and think it should carry some weight is foolish. Notice they didnt say 50 UFC fighters or Zuffa fighters. With a group size like that of “MMA fighters” you can find 50 people to support anything.

  7. Nick on February 25th, 2012 5:28 AM

    These guys are a bunch of scumbags that don’t give 2 shits about the fighters. If I were a member of the culinary union, I would be pissed that my required dues are going to fund bullshit like this. The culinary union has absolutely nothing to gain by pissing away their members dues on stupid shit like this. I don’t believe for a second that Station will unioinize over this.

  8. Bruce on February 25th, 2012 4:18 PM

    Unions and government legislation are not the answer. I believe MMA is capable of policing itself quite well, and the UFC is a good organization which generally cares about its fighters. Obviously, they are not above aggressive and sneaky business practices; which is the point of running any business. They should not be faulted for trying to make as much money as possible.

    That said, there is NO excuse for ANY fighter to sign ANY contract – with a show, a promotion, management, training facility, or sponsor etc. – without obtaining competent legal advice on the consequences of his/her signature, and without even an attempt to negotiate better terms.

    If all fighters conduct themselves as businessmen who need professional advice, and not jump head first into potentially dire ramifications, this business will be that much more respected publicly, and fairer to the fighters. All without our benevolent government usurping just a little more freedom in order to dictate what’s best for us.

  9. Rich Bergeron on February 27th, 2012 10:20 PM

    First of all, it’s opposed, not apposed. Secondly, the final statement in this piece is flat wrong. The FTC did not discuss what their findings were when they closed the investigation. They reserve the right to file charges at any time if they feel a need to, and they do not typically discuss the outcome of investigations at all. While they may not have enough evidence to file any formal charges, to suggest that they found nothing wrong is absolutely false. I am usually impressed with this site’s level of research, but seeing that misconception put in print is very unfortunate and extremely unprofessional.

  10. Rich Bergeron on February 27th, 2012 10:24 PM

    “This action is not to be construed as a determination that a violation may not have occurred, just as the pendency of an investigation should not be construed as a determination that a violation has occurred,” the letter stated. “The Commission reserves the right to take such further action as the public interest may require.”

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