Culinary Union trolling internationally, in France

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has for years failed in its attempts to unionize the Station group of hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. Station Casinos, frequently named to Fortune’s 100 best Companies to Work For, is owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are also majority owners of the UFC.

Although the UFC has nothing to do with culinary workers, and indeed provides a vast amount of union work at arenas across the nation, and the world, it has become a target of the union.

Anti-UFC steps the union has taken include:
•Backed anti-MMA legislation in New York;
•Called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate UFC parent company Zuffa, which the union accused of using monopolistic tactics to thwart competition from other MMA promoters;
•Launched a website complaining that UFC President Dana White swears a lot;
•Launched an online petition calling on FOX to back away from a deal to broadcast UFC events;
•Demand Anheuser-Busch pull its Bud Light sponsorship of the UFC;
•Supported wacky MMA legislation in California;
•Demanded the Marine Corps cut ties with the UFC;
•Demanded that OTM cut ties with the UFC; and
•Asked FOX to remove UFC lightweights Jeremy Stephens and Abel Trujillo from their UFC on FOX 5 fight for having a record.
•Petitioned Toys”R”Us CEO Gerald Storch to pull all UFC related toys from the company’s stores.

Where organized labor once lifted millions of exploited workers into the middle class, the Culinary Union is now spending member dues to accuse Dana White of swearing. And the union has no issue what so ever with the UFC.

The logic behind the actions is difficult to fathom. The majority of steps taken thus far are comical. The main exception is supporting anti MMA efforts in New York, which hurts fans and fighters, the economy of New York state, and every employee at Madison Square Garden, a union shop.

And now the union is extending its anti-MMA effforts internationally, through parent organization Unite Here.

The French Sports Ministry reconfirmed recently the country’s ban on mixed martial arts, stalling for now hopes that UFC-style cage fighting events will become legal in France.

Responding to a question from a Deputy of the National Assembly, the Sports Ministry stated on July 2: “Free Fight, or Mixed Martial Arts, takes place inside a cage and allows strikes against the opponent while on the ground. The policy of the Ministry has not changed and remains clear. The practice of MMA is not allowed and its events/shows are not permitted.”

The ban was reconfirmed despite lobbying of the French government by ZUFFA LLC of Las Vegas. Last year, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta called France a “massive opportunity” and said he was “encouraged that you’ll be eating croissants watching the UFC pretty soon.”

Carole Bretteville, President of the Women’s Committee for Federation Francaise du Sport d’Entreprise (“FFSE”), applauded the Ministry’s response.

“France works very hard to promote equality in all aspects of life, especially in sports,” said Bretteville. “FFSE promotes sport as a unifying force, where management and employees together benefit from shared recreation activities. I was appalled to find out how UFC was lobbying in France, especially when UNITE HERE informed me how UFC has tolerated derogatory statements and attitudes against women. We cannot allow such an organization to destroy all the work we have done to promote equality through French sports. I applaud the Minister’s courage to reject free fighting in France.”

UNITE HERE’s European Development Director Blake Harwell said: “We were not surprised. European attitudes toward such bloody displays date back centuries. Add in the anti-social issues and I’d say Zuffa and the IMMAF have a long way to go to make MMA palatable. No matter what name they call it, cage fighting still fails to meet European expectations for what counts as sport.”

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