On Wednesday, the Culinary Workers Union, bitter adversaries of Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce, called on the Nevada State Athletic Commission to adopt and enforce a “Bill of Rights for Professional Mixed Martial Artists.”
The Union is hoping to protect MMA fighters from abusive business practices and entering into 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. “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.”
Although the Union didn’t specifically finger the planet’s premier MMA promotion in their petition, most of the policies they are trying to enact directly attacks Zuffa’s current practices.
Last year, the Union fired off a letter to Anheuser-Busch and FOX requesting them to drop the UFC because of their anti-gay culture. They even started an online petition and created a website highlighting some of the non-PC remarks their employees have made over the years.
Here are the rights the Union is hoping for athletic commission to enforce:
1. Equal protections for all fighters: You shall have the same legal protections currently afforded to professional boxers under state and federal law. This includes extending the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000 and its protections against exploitative treatment of boxers to professional mixed martial arts fighters.
2. Right to work: You shall have the right to sign non-exclusive contracts to participate in any professional mixed martial arts events of your choosing, where such opportunities are available. This right includes the right to refuse to sign exclusive or “automatically renewing” contracts with a promoter that does not guarantee sufficient opportunity for you to fight in professional events and earn a living.
3. Inalienable right to your own name, likeness and image: You shall have the right to refuse to give any promoter and/or manager the right to your own name,likeness and image beyond the duration of the contract you have with the promoter and/or manager. This right includes the right to participate in professional mixed martial arts events, where such opportunities are available,without being required to sign additional contracts to give the promoter, manager and/or anybody else the right to your own name, likeness and image.
4. Free market of sponsorships: You shall have the right to choose your own sponsors outside of any professional mixed martial events in which you participate under a promotional contract. Outside of such events, no promoter shall restrict or prohibit you from signing sponsorship contracts with firms that choose to support you; nor shall any promoter or other entity require you to sponsor a particular product, business, or individual as a condition for participating in a professional mixed martial arts event.
5. Transparency of contracts and payments: You have the right to receive a detailed and written financial accounting, certified by your local athletic commission, of any and all revenues associated with a professional mixed martial arts event in which you participated. The report shall be provided to you by the event promoter in a timely manner and shall include a description of all payments,gifts or benefits the promoter received from the event, including, but not limited to, gate ticket sales, pay-per-view sales, other TV revenues, and other sponsorship payments.
6. Fair share of revenues: All professional mixed martial artists who fight in a professional mixed martial arts events shall have the right to receive no less than 25 percent of all revenues as reported in the detailed financial accounting to which they are entitled. The accounting report shall include, but is not limited to,gate ticket sales, pay-per-view sales, other TV revenues, and other sponsorship payments.
7. Freedom of association: You have the right to join an association or union of professional mixed martial arts practitioners in order to negotiate with a promoter the terms of your participation as a fighter in any professional mixed martial events without fear of retaliation or reprisal.
8. Right to healthcare insurance for training and fighting: You have the right to healthcare insurance that provides medical coverage for, at a minimum, all injuries sustained during, or while training for, your participation in a professional mixed martial arts event. This insurance shall be provided by the promoter at the time when you sign a promotional contract, and the cost of this insurance shall be borne by promoter.
9. Right to fair fights: You have the right to be ranked publicly by an independent mixed martial arts sanctioning body that uses objective, consistent and written criteria for measuring professional fighters. The sanctioning body shall not have any financial interest in or any financial association with any professional fighters, promoters or professional mixed martial arts events. You shall also have the right to have independent judges and referees to officiate any event in which you participate. These officials shall not have any financial interest in or any financial association with any professional fighters, promoters or managers except their compensation by the athletic commission for their work at the event.
10. Professionalism: You have the right to be treated with common courtesy and professional respect by other fighters and by promoters and managers. For mixed martial arts to become a mainstream sport accepted by the general public, participants in the sport must act in accordance with commonly accepted standards of courtesy, decency and respect in their public interactions with one another and in their interactions with the public.
(Pictured: Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta)