UFC letter to fighters on latest Culinary Union stunt

For a decade and a half, The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has tried and failed in its attempts to unionize the Station group of hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. Station Casinos 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 union work at arenas across the world, it has for years been a target of Local 226. The Culinary has created an often bizarre series of front groups purportedly made of citizens wanting to ban MMA, that are in reality a union group concerned about a casino chain.

Anti-UFC steps the crazy union has taken include:
•Tried to block a fountain at UFC headquarters;
Manufactured concern among prominent Jewish figures in New York that that Abu Dhabi is a minority owner of the UFC;
•Backed anti-MMA legislation in New York;
•Called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate UFC parent company Zuffa;
•Launched a website complaining that UFC President Dana White swears too much;
•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;
•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;
•Sought to bar minors from UFC Boston; and
•Complained that a local gay and lesbian community center is honoring the UFC.

Their latest step is an announcement with Teamsters Local 986 to unionize the UFC and expand The Muhammad Ali act to encompass MMA.  Players' associations play a vital role in many sports, but Local 226 trying to create one will serve only to hurt the effort. As the Culinary Union's goals lie elsewhere, in a casino chain, that consequence is of no relevance to their efforts.

UFC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Kirk D. Hendrick recently sent a message to all contracted fighters.

Dear Athletes,

You may see media reports in the days ahead about some union tactics that are both shameful and pathetic. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Teamsters union allegedly have devised a plan to “organize MMA fighters.” The reason this is pathetic is that the Culinary Union is the exact same union that has spent years, as well as the money from its dues-paying members, to do everything imaginable to keep MMA out of New York and to run a campaign telling UFC fans, sponsors and government officials to not support the professional sport that all of you compete in. They even created a website called “Unfitforchildren.org” to try and hurt the UFC, the sport of MMA and the very same athletes that they suddenly claim to care so much about.

Now, they are making more accusations against the UFC and they apparently believe that if MMA athletes would support the unions’ organizing efforts, sign union cards and agree to pay dues to the union every month, then the world of MMA would be a better place. Not only is such a mission misguided, it hides the unions’ only real interest, which is organizing workers at Station Casinos in Las Vegas, NV. They hope that by applying pressure to the UFC that somehow it will increase their chances in Las Vegas. Certainly, we will admit that their old tactics haven’t been working because they have been harassing Station Casinos, its employees and customers for over 15 years and they have yet to organize even one Station Casinos’ property.

There is a lot more that we could go into about these unions and their tactics, but for the time being, I’ll just point out the most obvious and illogical fact about this latest tactic. As a matter of law, unions can only organize employees, and as we all know, MMA athletes are independent contractors—not employees. You would think that union leaders would have done that little bit of research before issuing a press release.

On behalf of everyone in the UFC, please know that we consider all of you to be amazing athletes and we are proud to have created a worldwide platform where you can compete in the sport you love and be compensated for it. For that reason, we will not sit by and let a group that has publicly demonstrated that it wants to destroy our beloved sport try to do so by lying to you. We will fight them with the truth and we will win.

If you think a Player's Association is a good idea, this is a bad idea. And ironically, if you think a Player's Association is a bad idea, then getting in bed with the group that has – BY FAR – attacked the sport more than any other in our history, is a good idea.