The Teamsters union and UNITE-HERE joined forces Thursday in the hope of organizing Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) fighters.
“We have been surprised to learn how poorly these professional fighters are treated in the UFC,” Chris Griswold, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 986, said in a statement. “We want to help them to improve conditions for themselves and raise standards for the sport.”
It is not uncommon for professional athletes to unionize. From football to basketball, many professional leagues have a union specifically dedicated to the athletes. Unlike the other sports, however, the UFC has only emerged in popularity in recent years.
“UFC fighters can set a new agenda for their sport and make it better by working with regulators, sponsors, investors, and other stakeholders,” Griswold added. “As our efforts did for workers in other industries, fighters united for change can make a huge difference.”
According to a UNITE-HERE website dedicated to UFC fighters, union representation is very much needed. Among the many issues fighters face, the website lists inadequate wages as the main problem.
Wages have been a concern among some fighters for years. Back in 2012, lawyer and mixed-martial-arts enthusiast Robert Maysey met with top fighters to discuss the issue. As the New Republic noted at the time, the meeting was held during a UFC conference in Las Vegas. It just so happened to not be officially sanctioned by the UFC.
Maysey help to start the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association. The association that has sought to solve labor issues within the UFC since 2010.
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