On Thursday, two of the largest unions in the United States took aim at the UFC by zeroing in on the fighters, proclaiming that they had a joint plan to unionize the athletes to help save them from being taken advantage of by their employer.
The Teamsters Local 986 and the Culinary Worker’s Union Local 226, both with large support bases in Nevada, released a statement saying that they are taking it upon themselves to work towards organizing the UFC fighters into a union akin to other sports leagues.
The Culinary Worker’s Union in particular is an organization the UFC’s majority ownership, the Fertitta brothers and company president Dana White, are familiar with.
The Culinary Union has long been locked in a battle with the Fertittas’ Station Casinos, trying to organize the Station Casinos workers into a union, but have thus far failed. White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta have long pointed to the Culinary Union’s political influence in New York and the unionization dispute over Station Casinos as the primary factor blocking legalization of professional mixed martial arts in New York, the lone state in the Union without MMA regulation.
After the Culinary Union and Teamsters issued their joint statement on Thursday, UFC officials responded to an MMAWeekly.com request for comment, which exposes the unionization efforts as a thinly veiled attempt to leverage UFC fighters in the Culinary Union’s battle to unionize Station Casinos.
“The modern era of the UFC has seen incredible gains in athlete safety and compensation along with the mainstream success of a once marginalized sport. We are proud of this amazing record and consider it extremely duplicitous that the same labor union that has spent years demeaning UFC athletes, denouncing the sport of mixed martial arts, and doing everything possible to keep MMA out of New York, is now claiming to care about the interests of athletes in the UFC,” read the statement to MMAWeekly.com.
“Indeed, UFC has spent considerable time and effort defending against the outrageous allegations by this local union about athletes who have chosen to compete in the UFC. This is nothing more than the newest brazen tactic in a failing effort to organize culinary workers at a Las Vegas casino. It is shameful that local union leaders would try to use UFC athletes as pawns to advance this hidden agenda.
“We are proud of our relationship with all athletes who have entered into contracts with the UFC, and we are proud to produce a product that is enjoyed by millions of fans around the world.”