A Battle With a Union At the Heart of the UFC and MMA Not Being Santioned in New York

May 1, 2011
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With the first ever UFC show in Canada’s province of Ontario a rousing success, the world’s biggest MMA promotion now only has one more giant task to tackle when it comes to conquering a new territory.

New York State.

Sanctioning for mixed martial arts has happened in almost every state, as well as all the major areas in Canada, and across the world, but New York still seems to be the thorn in the side of the UFC as they try to get the sport legalized there.

The UFC has held rallies and events in New York City and event had assemblymen stand up for them, and say that the sport should be legal in the state.

In the past politicians like Assemblyman Bob Reilly have been huge opponents of mixed martial arts, saying the sport is too violent, and even going as far as having a poll commissioned to test New Yorker’s opinions on the sport coming to their state.

Well now for the first time ever, UFC President Dana White spoke out about the ongoing situation in New York, and whey he believes the company is still sitting on the sidelines in that state.

“It has nothing to do with mixed martial arts the reason that we’re not in New York. It has to do with the Culinary Union. The Culinary Union is spending millions of dollars of all these people who pay dues to keep us out of there. Because my partners the Fertitta brothers are the largest non-union gaming company in the country,” White told MMAWeekly.com.

“These union idiots, all these people work in the Culinary Union, paying all their money towards dues, this is what all their money’s being spent towards.”

The Culinary Union 226 based out of Nevada consists of over 60,000 union members working in the food service industry in the state.

Based on their website, Culinary Union 226 is by no means a fan of Station Casinos, the organization headed up by UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Culinary Union 226 has held protests and gone after Station Casinos several times including demonstrations and picketing in and around Nevada.

As a matter of fact, in the current news section of the Culinary Union 226 website, only stories containing the fight against Station Casinos are listed. The union is after Station Casinos for a myriad of reasons, but the biggest of which revolves around their supposed ‘anti-union’ bullying of employees.

Now at this point the question has to be asked what does a Nevada based company have to do with MMA being legalized in New York?

Well, according to White this is the way they are building their battle against Station Casinos by continuing to fund and work to make sure the Fertitta brother’s other major entity, the UFC, doesn’t get something it wants.

“It has nothing to do with MMA. It has to do with the Culinary Union,” White said. “They’re very powerful in New York. These unions on the east coast are still strong like the old school, and that’s really what’s going on.”

The story goes deeper than this however. The Culinary Union while based out of Nevada has powerful ties to other organizations and unions from across the country.

One of those organizations is possibly in cahoots with both the Culinary Union and New York Assemblyman Bob Reilly in their attempt to keep MMA out of the state.

White stated that the public relations firm that ran Reilly’s privately funded poll in 2009 that showed a majority of New Yorkers didn’t want MMA in their state was actually run by a group that also works for the Culinary Union.

Gramercy Communications was the company that was funded by Reilly to handle the polling. Coincidentally, Gramercy Communications was founded by Tom Nardacci.

Nardacci was the former communications manager for 1199 SEIU. Now the SEIU is one of the most powerful unions in the United States as they represent factions of employees from the health care industry, public services and property services (which include food service workers like those covered in the Culinary Union).

Nardacci’s firm, Gramercy Communication, handled the polling for Reilly’s infamous list that stated only 18% of New Yorkers polled wanted ‘ultimate fighting’ legalized.

At the end of the road, White doesn’t understand how the private interests of a few outweigh the public interests of the millions. Looking at how successful the UFC was in Toronto just this past week, White believes New York would pay off just as much.

“Fighting the UFC from coming there and bringing money into the state of New York,” White said about what the unions are doing. “Basically, when we go in, look at what’s happened here. People stay in hotels, go to restaurants, malls, etc.

“This is what the union’s spending the people’s dues on.”


Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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  • http://www.twitter.com/uncanny390 uncanny390

    A union being a bunch of dbags? Not surprised at all by this.

  • ShockednAwed

    Well ya know, White’s done a pretty good job of simplifying the issue from his standpoint…

    If the Fertitta’s run a non-unionized casino, in an enviornment that is predominantly union, then they’re going to raise the ire of those who are paying dues. The workers, the regular people, who have built their own layer of protection in this corporate-run world, are the ones being hurt by the non-union casino.

    So it’s them using their leverage and applying pressure on partners and partner groups, in effect saying to the UFC and the Fertitta’s, “Hey, unionize your casino, and your other problems will go away.”

    And having been on both sides of the union fence, I’m not sure what the Fertitta’s problem would be with it, unless they like paying low wages with low benefits.

    • XIRandomHeroIX

      Of course they want to pay low wages and low benefits, thats how you raise profits its a part of business… Unions force businesses to pay top dollar for sub par employees. I really can’t believe unions still exist.

      • ShockednAwed

        That’s one way to increase bottom-line profits in our corporate, capitalist society, but not the right way. Your opinion suggests you haven’t ever been a unionized worker, because then you’d understand why they still exist.
        And as for the top-dollar comment, check out some stats on that – you might be surprised.