Collective bargaining would be untenable in the UFC

Discussion in 'UFC Discussion' started by Alpha_T83, Aug 13, 2019 at 4:33 PM.

  1. rjmbrd

    rjmbrd Gold Belt

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    All due respect, some misinformation in this post.

    Those desiring to organize UFC fighters need 30% of current fighters to sign an interest card. Once those signature cards are filed, the NLRB will perform an investigation to determine if UFC fighters are eligible. The big hurdle here is if the claim that fighters are incorrectly classified as independent contractors.

    Lets get that down for the lay person - 30% of fighters signup for a potential union, it will get the wheels turning and an official process begins.

    The obvious things to organize around are items that benefit all fighters, who universally have no advocacy. When Eddie Alvarez was sued by Bellator, his UFC promotional contract became public record. Northwestern University labor law professor Zev Eigen called it "the worst he's ever seen in sports or entertainment."

    Virtually every clause exclusively benefits the UFC without reciprocity. All fighters, top and bottom, will agree on basic fairness in the contract, including guaranteed fights, how and when you can be cut and better provisions for mutually ending the contract.

    All fighters will agree to a basic pension plan, health care and common sense improvements. Currently the UFC offers 1 economy hotel room and 1 economy flight per fighter. That means you get one coach/corner a ticket, everyone else you pay out of pocket to fly. Its absurd, but that is what they've gotten away with. Bet the house you can get 90% of fighters to agree to change this.

    When it comes to pay, especially as we inch away from the PPV model, getting a guaranteed cut of gross revenue will benefit the new guys and the stars alike. Same goes for being able to finally negotiate likeness rights and sponsorship deals - ESPECIALLY for the more prominent fighters.
     
  2. fzoid4454

    fzoid4454 Brown Belt

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    Bullshit. It's not all the fighters splitting up the same crumbs different ways, it's the fighters, as the ones who create all that revenue, dividing up some of the pie, instead of just the leftover scraps.

    All those examples you cited, the AVERAGE salary skyrocketed for all the athletes, but the top salaries have exploded, as well.
     
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  3. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    That title is irrelevant in the eyes of the law. The UFC can call them part-time clowns if they want. The reality is that they are still athletes paid to perform by the organization. If you look at comparable cases, other sports organizations have also tried to claim that their athletes were independent contractors. That argument doesn't work.

    This is actually the biggest sticking point. As you said, you don't technically need all of the big PPV stars on board to form a union, which should make it easier for the athletes to form a union. However, if most of the athletes oppose a union, then the investigation will reject the union application.

    And the big PPV fighters have huge pull. They've got teams and social circles. Guys might vote against a union if they're friends with Jon Jones or Conor McGregor. In addition, many of the young fighters see themselves as future "Conor McGregors" -- they may vote against a union because they see it limiting their future earning potential, even if they're over-estimating themselves.

    Regardless of the amount of support you need to file the application, I can guarantee you the bid will fail if most of the UFC stars aren't on board, and the majority of UFC fighters don't support a union.

    This is largely irrelevant. The right to unionize is ENSHRINED in Federal laws, and the Unions are still more powerful than the UFC will ever be. If the major sports leagues couldn't stop unionization, then the UFC can't either. If UFC fighters ever have a union bid accepted, these UFC contracts would be null and void so fast it would make your head spin. The real challenge is getting the fighters on board.

    We aren't really inching away from the PPV model. The UFC will continue to run ~12 PPVs per year on ESPN+. The difference is the 70/30 revenue sharing is over the year, not per event (assuming the UFC meet a yearly PPV quota).

    And if anything, the smaller and mid tier fighters will get more screwed than ever.
    The UFC does most of their PPV sales through a few megastars. Jon Jones has single-handedly outsold the rest of the UFC since December. His fights against Gus and Smith did 700k and 650k respectively, and presumably his fight against Santos is the current highest selling ESPN PPV. In comparison, UFC 234 and 236 did like 175k and 100k PPV buys, respectively. That's like 15-20% of what Jones has sold lately.

    This yearly split will mean the UFC can run weaker events and give mid tier fighters little to no PPV bonus. But the megastars will still command a King's Randsom.
     
  4. linch

    linch Purple Belt

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    You made some good points in your post, but this ridiculous idea that's been floating around sherdog for quite some time has to stop.
    Revenue is not profit.
    A company can have 500 million revenue and 400 million costs, which leaves them 100 million of profit.
    How are they going to give 50% of the revenue to the employees?
    And let's not compare ufc with NFL and NBA because they are associations not companies.
     
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  5. Levi_

    Levi_ Red Belt

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    There are a few problems with your analysis. You wouldn't be able to model a union in this sport from a union in the other sports that you mention. That is way too much of an apples and oranges situation to compare individual aspects (such as pay ratio) and assume they would be the same.

    I do agree there would be a steep climb to get a union in the UFC. I don't see it happening naturally given the overall situation; not without some kind of unusual circumstance involving legal regulation or lawsuit where the UFC has no choice but to allow and work with a serious union.
     
  6. linch

    linch Purple Belt

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    Where did you get this? This is nonsense.
     
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  7. rjmbrd

    rjmbrd Gold Belt

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    This is just flat out wrong.

    The title is not irrelevant in the eyes of the law (who told you such a thing?) and the UFC are successfully enjoying 500+ fighters classified as independent contractors right now. This is absolutely not a settled matter of law, and there will be a lengthy legal battle over the status of Zuffa fighters.


    This is a very poor description of a NLRB process. They will investigate to make sure the signatures were not delivered on coercion or fraudulently submitted. If "most" oppose it? Most isn't an actionable number, you are looking for 'majority or 'plurality neither of which are required. The next step is an election and official vote.


    This is a bunch of ambiguous bullshit.

    90% of the 500 fighters on the roster are fighting for peanuts and care about as much as a fart in the wind as they do for Conor McGregors social circle. They are generally people trading brain damage for low wages that have families to feed.



    You have not presented a single logical reason to qualify this statement.


    We are demonstrably "inching" away from the PPV model. Lets both agree - that its common sense - "inching" is to describe a slow moving process.

    In the last 3 years, the amount of revenue from PPV is massively reduced in EBITA, these are filed and factual from both Moodys and circulated documents from the sale. This is not up for dispute. Rights fees and cost reduction have made a multi hundred million dollar change in revenue balance.


    None of this suggest 90% of fighters don't want a guaranteed cut of revenue, health care, better contracts and more advocacy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 7:27 PM
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  8. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Firstly, the UFC and the NBA are absolutely comparable. They are organizations that employ athletes.

    And revenue sharing is a very complex term (albeit imprecise) stemming from collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). Complex "revenue sharing pools" are created in which the organizations agree to split revenues and costs with the athletes, and then the athletes are paid out of the revenue sharing pool. There is a complex definition of "related revenues" that includes merchandise. And part of the athletes pay is witheld in Escrow to ensure that the players aren't overpaid, as "salary caps" are determined apriori for a yearly period. If revenues fall short of expectations, some of the overpayment to the athletes is recaptured via the Escrow not being fully paid out.

    So yes, as you said, with the simple definition of revenue vs profit, it's not 50/50 split of revenue. It's way more complex than either you or I will probably ever fully understand, but in simple English that people are used to, the idea is a 50/50 sharing of profits not revenue.
     
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  9. mkess101

    mkess101 Not the hero he deserves, but the hero he needs

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    But in order to "impose" the union, don't they have to actually be employees of the company? And not independent contractors like they are now? I will be honest and say that I don't know specifically what recourse the fighters have to change that status, but I do know that it's hard to envision the UFC voluntarily agreeing to have them viewed as employees and not IC's. Which on the surface would seem to say that the fighters would need to file some sort of grievance with a labor relations board or whatever (this is out of my area of expertise---which I'm sure shows very clearly ha ha) before they could unionize. And I also have no clue how they organize filing that grievance, or what the threshold is when it comes to what % of fighters' signatures are needed or whatever.

    It's a lot of murky legal mumbo jumbo to most of us laypeople that aren't super well versed in labor law.
     
  10. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Wow. You're just retarded if you believe that. Wait, wait, wait ... you must actually a genius. All of the mega millionaire sports associations like the NHL and NBA that tried and failed to prevent Collective Bargaining just needed to talk to you!! rjmbrd, the genius of the Sherdog forums had the answer all along.

    When powerful sports leagues previously tried to fight unionization, claiming players were independent contractors, they just had to get you and come tell the judge "Look, Zuffa says these guys are independent contractors. That's how it is. This isn't settled." And the judge would say wow, this guy is a fucking genius.
     
  11. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    It's the same thing as with the NHL, NBA, etc. Those players were also "independent contractors". They were athletes performing on contracts for an organization.

    And for sure getting all the fighters together to unionize, to go through the process some kind of unified and coherent manner would be insanely difficult. They would basically need to hire a 3rd party firm to help them through the process. That in turn would require money, which they would all need to pay for.

    And then even if their union bid is accepted, there's going to be a strike/lockout. This means that the athletes won't get paid for a period of time. The NHL has lost entire seasons to lockouts. Many of these athletes are already living paycheck to paycheck, so asking them to go potentially 6-12 months without pay would be brutal.

    It would absolutely be a mess.
     
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  12. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Dude stop nitpicking. To fully explain these processes you'd need to write pages and pages of shit.

    And no matter how much I wrote, there's always more minutia. This isn't a post to explain the process of applying to form a union.

    You know as well as I do that I'm not going to put all of that in my post, because it will be a wall of text and no one will read it. Yes, forming a Union is a complex and lengthy process ... that's why the fighters haven't done it yet. If it was easy, it probably would have been done by now.
     
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  13. rjmbrd

    rjmbrd Gold Belt

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    This is not a settled matter of law and for reasons too many to list, the UFC is not particularly similar to a league of sports franchises.

    However, individual, multinational sports like tennis and golf are not unionized, and can be argued to have more similarities with MMA.

    This is a complicated and nuanced topic. You made a poorly informed thread and don't seem to have a strong background in the topics surrounding unionization or the pertinent law.
     
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  14. rjmbrd

    rjmbrd Gold Belt

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    You got the basics wrong.

    If you don't know the answers, just ask those who do, at the very least look it up on google. You have a lot of misinformation in here, which isn't just the absence of facts.
     
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  15. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    I'm responding to you in individual posts because our posts got way too big -- this is the last one. I think I might have even replied to this comment already, but you re-hashed it, so I'll reply again.

    You're right that the fighters don't technically need the big stars to form a union. However, the PPV stars have teams and social circles. You don't think that friends of Jon Jones, Khabib, or Conor might be swayed into being anti-union? If a union group seriously formed in the UFC, there would likely be an anti-union group as well. That group could grow big enough to stop the bid for a union.

    In addition, as you mentioned yourself, forming a Union is a lengthy and complex process. The fighters would basically need to hire a 3rd party firm to organize the union bid for them. This costs money. Where do you think that comes from? You'd need some of the richer fighters to help fund that, at least at first.

    And then you're talking about a potential 6-12 month labor dispute to get a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed with the UFC. You think those 90% of fighters that are making peanuts are willing to sit out, making absolutely nothing? Again, it's not easy for them to do that. They might need some kind of relief fund to help them pay bills. That takes more money.

    Good luck forming a union without the wealthy fighters on board.
     
  16. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Oh my god. Kid, at no point did I ever try to fully explain the process of unionization. Ever. I very generally mentioned that unionization would require the support of the highest paid athletes, and that's it.

    I simply stated that 1) unionization is not in the best interests of the highest paid UFC fighters, at least in the short term, and 2) without the support of the highest paid fighters, forming a union is going to be extremely challenging.

    That's all I said. You're trying to come on here and flex, so that I can explain the process more fully, and then you'll nitpick more points, and I'll explain more, and you'll just continue going further and further into minutia.

    This is an endless, pointless argument and I'm simply not going to engage an obvious troll.
     
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  17. johncola

    johncola Red Belt

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    Why would there have to be a maximum athlete salary? I feel you haven't fully explained that point.

    IIRC, the Professional Fighters Association included things a minimum athlete salary, fighter pensions, healthcare stuff, and a share of media revenue and merch sales. There were more demands than that that I can't remember, but I'm sure they didn't request a maximum athlete salary.

    So yeah, why would a maximum salary be necessary?
     
  18. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Tennis and Golf? Really? These are actually better examples of independent contractors, because the players are not tied to contracts. The players are free to participate in events or not, and they compete for prize money in which pay is 100% driven by performance. Beyond that, the athletes are free to earn their own money via sponsorships.

    One of the key aspects of an independent contractor is "freelance work", in which the contractor works on an as-needed basis, is not guaranteed work, and are free to take their services elsewhere.

    What would make the UFC fighters independent contractors: 1) If all fights were 1-fight contracts without guaranteed fights afterwards, 2) if they were free to bring their own sponsorship both in and outside of the octagon, 3) if they retained all rights to their name, likeness, and associated marking rights, and 4) were free to work anywhere else they wanted, provided it didn't interfere with existing short term contracts (i.e. you can't compete elsewhere 3 weeks before a UFC bout, as injuries might jeopardize your fulfillment of short-term contract work).

    Why the UFC fighters ARE NOT independent contractors: 1) long-term multifight contracts with GUARANTEED FIGHTS -- the UFC fighters are literally guaranteed a certain number of bouts offered per year, 2) they are not free to bring their own sponsorship, 3) the UFC demands it retains all rights to their name, likeness, and associated marking rights IN PERPETUITY, and 4) the fighters can't just work anywhere else they want when they don't have a signed bout agreement, and are therefore not "freelance".


    UFC fighters are not idependent contractors, and anyone that believes they are is a naive retard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 8:12 PM
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  19. Alpha_T83

    Alpha_T83 Brown Belt

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    Well, it's not techincally required. It's more of a mob mentality thing that develops.

    So, imagine you're a low paid UFC fighter, and GSP convinces you to unionize. So you need to fork over money, go through this long process of unionizing, and then you're going through a long process of negotiation a collective bargaining agreement (without being paid during the strike/lockout)....

    And then you realize that when profits are shared with the UFC, part of your pay is put into Escrow. The idea here is CBAs project revenues a year in advance, and determine sharing of revenues with the player based on that. But if the UFC estimate that $500 million will be shared with the fighters, but revenues fall short and the adjusted value is only $400 million, then some of the UFC fighters' salary held in Escrow is not paid out to them, to ensure that the UFC get their fair share of the profits.

    Now imagine that you realize this means that if the UFC allocates $500 million to the fighters, but then they sign Conor McGregor to an additional $100 million afterwards, but his fight sells poorly and the adjusted revenue sharing pool for the fighters only ends up being $500 million still, that all the fighters now all take a 20% pay cut to pay out Conor McGregor's ludicrous contract.

    This is why all organizations that unionize end up having the majority of athletes demand minimum and maximum salaries. It's not a strict legal requirement, more as it is an organic human phenomenon that evolves. The athletes realize that overvalued megastar contracts can actually depreciate their earnings, and demand salary caps to prevent this. They aren't willing to go through the struggle of unionizing without some guarantees for their earnings.
     
  20. mkess101

    mkess101 Not the hero he deserves, but the hero he needs

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    I don't think in most cases with major sports organizations that it's the players' unions demanding salary caps (they want minimums or floors for sure, but not maximums). Maybe that's what you meant when you said salary caps.
     

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