Monday, July 25, 2011

More Union Blues for Zuffa

In the wake of New York's failure to legalize and regulate MMA by the end of the 2011 legislative calendar (last June), Zuffa continues to push their narrative that culinary union resistance is blocking MMA in our state; despite any clear evidence supporting such a story. In recent media appearances, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have essentially suggested that New York Assembly leadership (read Speaker Sheldon Silver) is in the union's pocket.

In a nutshell, Zuffa's story goes like this:

Majority UFC owners, Frank Fertitta III & Lorenzo Fertitta, also own the non-union Station Casino chain in Nevada. Station Casinos have been involved in a long and arduous battle with Unite Here and its member unions in Nevada (the now bankrupt Station Casinos often on the losing end). In retribution against the Fertittas, Unite Here is blocking MMA in NY through the local cullinary uinion.

Rather than rewrite an entire editorial on the topic, I have continually updated my May 13th editorial as this story has developed over the past months. At the bottom of the page you will find a timeline of stories related to the development of this story. Please take some time to review the evidence and varied opinions for yourself. I am sure many of you are seeing the various stories in the press, scratching your head, and thinking to yourself "this union story does not make sense". And, you are right. It does not make sense. Where was the union resistance in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and other states to recently regulate MMA?

What does make sense is that Zuffa's apparent policy of pushing this union story and airing their own dirty laundry (regardless of whether the unions are actually offering significant resistance) is shooting us in the foot here in New York. Zuffa continually presents themselves as the only faction of the sport that really matters. Many non-fans believe that the UFC is the sport, not that the UFC is part of the sport. In reality, the UFC would only be a small part of the New York MMA community. Yet, the average voter and legislator will associate the Fertittas and their questionable practices in Nevada with the the Sport of MMA as a whole. 

While this strategy may allow the Fertittas to take a few shots at their Nevada opponents, it can't be good for New York MMA.


  1. You're going to hate me for this, but the UFC's not the only one advancing that narrative. So is...drumroll please...Unite Here.

    "Josh Gold, of the Hotel Trades Council, of which Unite Here is a member, says it has fought the legislation in Albany because the sport doesn’t offer fighters protections from “unscrupulous promoters” and “exploitive” contracts. Its opposition memo only names UFC and none of the other operators who could bring more than 100 fights to New York’s auditoriums annually. That might not be surprising given UFC is the most active industry representative pushing for the bill."

  2. LOL...I don't hate you. I already saw that article and have been communicating with the author as I write this. It was that article that inspired this post. I actually linked it on my timeline of stories in the other post. I also don't think that article presents a balanced perspective.

    Gold has made contradictory statements as well.

    Also of note is that The NY Hotel and Motel Trades Council is actually not a member of Unite Here. Though they do share some key members. Unite Here has not spoken in public about this issue at all (despite the memo falsely identified as being from Unite Here by Helwani).

    In fact, one would expect the NY local Unite Here chapters to support their Nevada brothers if they really were not in favor. But, they have remained silent. Why? The only union to step up and say anything in NY has been the NYHMTC...not a member of Unite Here.

    And, their only known attempt to lobby against MMA was their Senate memo, which did not do much good in the Senate as we know.

    I suspect, the story is more likely that the NYHMTC is the only union that would step up and say anything...even if it was only a show of token resistance to appease some common Unite Here/NYHMTC members.

  3. I would add that I have long said that by pushing this narrative, Zuffa ran the risk of forcing the NY unions to oppose even if they did not at the start...if only to save face and be forced to publicly support their brothers in Nevada.

  4. Also, the fact that the memo does only note the UFC and not other brands, supports my suggestion that by positioning themselves as the be-all-end-all of the MMA community, Zuffa is not helping us in NY.